A Thing Intangible 24” x 36"
A painting will often suggest one particular approach over another for conveying the spirit of the piece. For this painting from Joshua Tree National Park, the soft, moody atmosphere was key, so I focused on slowly dragging loaded brushes full of paint across the surface, building up texture and layering variations with warmer and cooler tones across the sky, hills, and Joshua trees in ways that would convey the light and space I experienced.
The iconic Joshua Trees are not rendered to show their individual sharp leaves because they didn’t appear that way in this light, rather more as sculptural masses, with some of the silhouette hinting at points and angles here and there. We get the idea of them planted in this unique landscape, and understand what they are based on color and silhouette - they won’t be mistaken for saguaros or eucalyptus trees.
Some of my favorite artists didn’t paint grandiose or romantic ideas of Art; they primarily depicted life around them. Gardens, local landscapes, things that they knew and saw regularly. I’ve always thought this work tells us so much more about the individual than if they had painted postcard views of the Alps or tried to chase the market to paint something saleable.* So I hope by my choices that I’m able to convey something of my life through my work.
(*By this I mean that when we start to consider how ‘saleable’ something might be, as artists we start to limit our potential. “How would a potential collector respond to this?” is the wrong question: we should be asking “What’s my response?” It’s not terribly hard if you just want to make money in art - look at what the galleries are showing, what sells in the shows, what gets the attention on social media. Then do a version of that. But if you want a true challenge, tell the world what you’re interested in. The more personal the work, the less likely it will get noticed. Just because some artists don’t put sales front and center in their work doesn’t mean that selling isn’t crucial to their livelihood, it means that other things are even more important.)
Every so often I'll change up the featured painting seen here. The idea is to give a little insight into my inspiration, why I painted something, of what I'm searching for in a particular piece.
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All images © Eric Merrell