Perspective is everything

Perspective is everything. I’m not just talking about two or three point perspective here, but also the question of “Why do you do what you do?” What is your motivation? This is a question ask of every linocut I undertake.

Using my imaginary view finder

In all of my linocuts, I take a subject matter that is familiar and try to look at it through a different view finder. Take your thumbs and pointer fingers into L-shapes and make a square. When you crop the scene, how does it change your experience of the subject matter?  I am most struck by how I experience topography, especially when viewed through the window of an airplane.

View of mountains on my way to Portland, Oregon.

In many of my linocuts, I try to remove some of the familiar perspective cues. In particular, I am drawn to the Asian art tradition that does not rely on horizons, but allows the viewer to experience a landscape in new vertical ways. Your eye knows it is not what Westerners would call realistic, but your emotional response still experiences it as tall, or expansive…

Should we use cues to help the viewer?

Painter and printmaker Yvonne Jacquette (b. 1934) is best known for her interpretation of aerial views of both cityscapes and rural landscapes. Sometimes she includes the wing of the airplane in her artwork, and sometimes she omits them. But even without the wing, we know that we are looking at something expansive, and perhaps we can feel cool air against our face as we soar about the ground. I have yet to include an airplane wing in my work, but I have begun to include horizons in my clouds series, because I felt the subject matter demanded it.

Yvonne Jacquette. Fall Foliage, Left Wing, 1989. Oil.

Making the eyes and brain do some work

One of my earliest art-related memories comes from a bedroom wall in my grandmother’s house. Most of the walls in this upstate New York Victorian era farmhouse were covered with wallpapers, and the one in the guest bedroom was a diagonally repeating pattern of birds, flowers and ribbon-like forms. Early mornings were the perfect time to let my eyes move diagonally across the walls, being drawn into the patterns that never completely resolved or ended. That is what I want for people to experience with my imagery. I want your eye to be curious about what it is seeing, without being frustrated or overstimulated. This is a delicate line to walk.

A close-up of my latest large linocut, ready for carving. What do you see?

My latest large linocut is still in the messy printing stage, but the forms are beginning to appear. In the above image, what does your eye see? Do you keep changing your mind? What if the image was inverted?

The challenge for artists is to keep you interested — to create work that you will want to stare at in the light of early morning.

What art keeps your eyes interested?

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