A note about painting.

Added on by holland dieringer.

It took me 5 years after completing my BFA in painting to find my way back to the studio.  It took me 7 to start showing people my work again.  During that time, I played in a rock band, moved 4 times, began the conscious journey of figuring out what it is I'm supposed to be doing with my life, and exploring what role art plays in my time here in this world.  

I have an acute memory of a conversation I had with another artist, shortly after I had graduated college.  His work was exquisite, and he happened to be my roommate for a few months during the summer.  We sat on the back porch one late morning and a light conversation turned towards his current relationship with the galleries representing him.  They were requesting more work, people wanted to buy more of his paintings...but he didn't want to send more.  He didn't like not knowing who had bought his paintings, where they hung, or why they had bought it in the first place.  I did not understand.  I said, without much thought, that art is a form of communication, and why should any artist create artwork if he/she has no desire to show it, to sell it?  You have a talent, you create beauty, and yours in particular is in demand.  Artists work hard, pondering philosophies and digesting the human condition...and slave to create  an interpretation on whatever is deemed important.  This was my rant.  I had left art school with the knowledge engraved in my head that it's hard to be successful as a fine artist, and therefore lacking an understanding of where he was coming from.

He described his process, and the ultimate joy in creating those delicate images.  Each one meant something to him, and he didn't make them for mass consumption, or to send a message.  He made them because he had to - he was driven from within to create. So cast aside your soapbox, little grasshopper, for describing the role of art in this world isn't so straightforward.

I come back to this memory now because I think I understand better what he was trying to describe. I'm not sure I can say that I hold any of my paintings so dear that I would refuse to part with them, but my priority and interest has shifted to the process of making it, the JOY of creating.  The end product–what the viewer is left with– is only the consequence of that process.  I can only hope that the viewer feels a fraction of the enjoyment in looking as I have in creating. But when I’m painting, it’s not about the viewer and it’s not about the ideas that are normally running through my head at a phenomenal rate. And yet, it’s very important that the viewer be able to connect with the piece.  For this reason, and equally for the joy of self-exploration, my content deals with the soul: it is where the inner worlds and the outer worlds meet that the seat of the soul lies.  I am fascinated by the connection between mind and body, and with the hero’s journey (a universal story wonderfully described by Joseph Campbell, author of Hero of a Thousand Faces) and its depiction throughout the ages.  I am inspired by art that was not created simply for art's sake, but for a larger purpose, a greater cause - in Byzantine iconography, illustrations from the time of and after the Buddha in Southeast Asia, in Persian miniatures and Native American Folklore.  The body is involved in the physical journey, but in these stories, the body is only representative of the trials and growth experienced by the inner worlds–soul, mind, energy, guts, essence, faith…call it what you will, but there is something within all of us that, though it may be hard to pin down, is greater and more beautiful than any physical representation or formation could represent.

My process is very meditative (read: time-consuming).  I currently work with a combination of traditional gouache, pencil, charcoal, acrylic, hand-made papers, etchings, silkscreen, fabric, enamel and found images.  Most of my current work is very small, but I have begun to re-investigate the larger format.  Most supports are either plywood, birch or paper.