Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Interior Life

An Interior Life Thomas W Schaller Watercolor 15x15 inches August 2017 The paraphrased Wordsworth quote - "Mother Nature is the best teacher" - is often accepted by painters as something approaching gospel. And in truth , there is no substitute for actual site observation in our attempts to understand the many complexities of color, texture, and light. But for me, there are many other teachers of equal importance. Dreams, memories, and the creative invention of pure imagination are just as critical to the artist in the attempt to tell the stories we may wish our work to tell. We are all products of our collective and accumulated experiences. Even as we grab our painting kits and head out with the aim to simply paint the world as it is outside our door, we cannot experience that actual scene without input beyond just the the simple act of looking. It is almost an impossibility to see anything with such unfettered clarity. For example, there are always fragments of our memories of having seeing it before. We may also be informed by how we may wish to see it, or how we hope to portray it in our work. In addition, we can often be influenced by how others have seen and/or painted such a scene as well. In short, it is all but impossible to ever paint exactly what we see as much as we paint how we think and feel about what we see. Whether we are aware of it or not, we cannot help but be informed by our thoughts and feelings about - and our dreams and memories of - the world around us. And I believe this is as it should be. In fact, if we explore this truth, it can expand our potential as artists. It truly is not what we see, but how we see that can make all the difference. And so if we broaden and deepen our vision, we can begin to look and to see in new ways, and with new eyes. What I often try to do in my work is to find ways and methods of bypassing actual "reality" and tapping into these less tangible means of perception. Like anything else, the more I do this, the easier it becomes. Like all of us, I have a large "internal library" of sights and sounds, impressions and memories of my years of life , of moving through the world. And the fewer filters I put between those banked experiences and my easel, the more inventive, personal, and communicative my artwork can be. My painting ,"An Interior Life" , posted above is a completely imagined view. There is no such place or view in the "real world". It is an example of the process of being inspired less by any specific thing I have seen, and more by impressions and memories of things I have experienced at some other level over the years. It is meant to be "beyond time". It could be set in the present, the near future, or in some bygone era. And the story it is meant to tell is both straightforward and intentionally vague - both quite personal and broadly universal as well. In fact, it is a tribute to the many ways we may all be inspired and motivated as much by other worlds. The realms of thought, feeling, and memory - writing, books, photographs, drawings - and the study of such pursuits, are just as real as any other sort of direct observation. And in part, it is inspired by the Wallace Steven's poem below. I have always loved this beautiful piece of writing and the themes addressed hit home in a particularly powerful way. Thomas W Schaller Los Angeles - August 2017 Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour Wallace Stevens Light the first light of evening, as in a room In which we rest and, for small reason, think The world imagined is the ultimate good. This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous. It is in that thought that we collect ourselves, Out of all the indifferences, into one thing: Within a single thing, a single shawl Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth, A light, a power, the miraculous influence. Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves. We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole, A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous. Within its vital boundary, in the mind. We say God and the imagination are one... How high that highest candle lights the dark. Out of this same light, out of the central mind, We make a dwelling in the evening air, In which being there together is enough.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Glencoe Avenue Morning - Los Angeles

After years of detesting - then merely resenting - them, I have finally begun to make my peace with the relentless jumble of overhead wires and poles that define much of the skyline here in Los Angeles. In large part - because of the risk of earthquakes - such utility lines cannot be buried beneath streets and sidewalks as they are in many other major cities. And so, we are forced to co-exist. But at last, I began to see them not as just an inevitable plague, but also as vessels, capable of transmitting their own kind of expected beauty, as they carve and divide the planes of sky in constantly surprising , abstract, and unexpected ways. And in that realization, came another sort of awakening in me as both a person and an artist. Beauty is not always to be found in the obvious or expected places . And the same can be said for people, or ideas, or ways of being for that matter. Beauty is not content to be so narrowly defined. And moreover, it cannot actually be found in what we see - but in how we choose or learn to see. In other words, beauty does not so much exist within our subjects, but in how fully we are able to see and to feel them . And only then, can we - as artists - turn our attention to how we are able to interpret those feelings on our paper or canvas. Glencoe Avenue Morning - Los Angeles Thomas W Schaller - Watercolor 22x22 Inches 17 February 2016

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Stormy Road to Newcastle"

"Stormy Road to Newcastle" Northern Ireland Thomas W Schaller - Watercolor 15x22 inches 22 March 2015 On my trip to Northern Ireland last year, I was looking forward to being bowled over by the beauty I'd always imagined I'd see in the legendary Mountains of Mourne ( where the "Mountains Sweep Down to the Sea" as the song goes ). And I was - but more so than I ever could have imagined. And the overpowering beauty, energy, and majesty of the ever-changing sky was a revelation. Never have skies seemed so alive to me - as if they were always trying to talk to me - to tell me something. And every day since - I believe they did. So inspiring and amazing they were. Driving toward Newcastle this day - I had to stop and just try to take it all in. I still am.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Facade Study in Warm and Cool

"Facade Study in Warm and Cool" Thomas W Schaller - Watercolor 18x13 inches on Fabriano Artistico 16 March 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Kitchen - Castle Beynac; France"

"Kitchen - Castle Beynac" Thomas W Schaller - Watercolor 18 x 13 inches 03.14.2015

Italy - Summer 2015

Lots of time in Italy this year - never a bad thing! I'm very happy to be exhibiting and presenting at the IWS Exhibition; Fabriano In Acquarello, and The Festival Internazionale in Sperlonga in May. Then in June, teaching in Rome for the Associazione Romana Acquerellisti. A few sample attached. Can't wait!

Friday, March 13, 2015

"End of the Day - Toulouse Cathedral"

"End of the Day - Toulouse Cathedral" Thomas W Schaller - Watercolor. 22x14 13.03.2015