For me, the best journey meanders with stimulating activity then places to rest. Have you ever hosted a child’s birthday party!? Frenetic keyed-up energy laced with games and sugar then the big couch cozying crash when everyone goes home. Those are extremes! Our lives are works in progress and some of us live with those extremes daily. They become a habit. I prefer to take new risks balanced with allowing recovery time to let the experience sink in.
Many times we seek the culmination as the reward. It’s nice and often memorable! At times, people strive for that, only to feel empty later. I like the culmination to be a memory of the point of the journey that brought you to deep awareness so that later you can reflect and use that point in time to move forward. It becomes the launching point for reflection! What’d I learn from the experience? How do I use this in my life?
In this painting, you’ll notice the movement carrying you up along a central shifting path. Stimulating areas of color, glazes, line and brushwork are balanced by the contrast of calm, soft grays that extend within and hold the powerful energized areas. Like a tapestry, this composition has a warp and weft that brings together the pieces. There is gel medium underneath it all that brings texture that contrasts to the smooth canvas. There are controlled drips and sharper linear lines that move the eye. The painting has many many layers and strategic transparent and opaque glazing add another element of contrast. Letting the layers, movement and contrasts be the source for conveying the many aspects of a journey leading to that climactic moment.
“Spirit Ridge is a culmination of experiences and is an abstraction that allows the viewer to feel these. Avidly hiking these past years in the Pacific Northwest and California, I notice how yes, the ridge point, tends to be the pinnacle of the hike. It’s where the culminated effort and forward momentum comes to a stop (and many times food or snacks are involved!). The body slows and relaxes and even if the view is diminished by weather, there’s a peacefulness that pervades as you become attuned to the silence and the surroundings. And that peacefulness often follows you back down the trail as you notice with fresh eyes the new vistas from a new direction.
I take these experiences back to the studio. Not consciously, though internally, and they become the expression that fuels the choice of color, texture, line, contrast and movement within the composition. It becomes a channeled transmission of an adventure. With Spirit Ridge, I had a sense of a totem during the process as I began to see shapes emerge within the painting: An animal staring to the right; water element running below all; light traveling through forest above; and the stability of rock within.
How do you know when the painting is done? For me, it’s like the last puzzle piece that falls into place and that feeling of ease from completion becomes almost a feeling of neutrality where I know nothing more can be added. This painting has a lot of texture and when I thought it was done, I’d return to studio and realize that it’s not there yet and I know because I feel unease, literally, in my body. They say the body knows so I’ve been respecting that inner wisdom. Much like the ease felt at the top of the ridge after a long climb.” – Patty Ripley on Spirit Ridge, available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC
Have you sat on a boulder midstream of rushing rapids lately? I have, and highly suggest you try. It was an amazing experience. Exploring early this summer outside of Kennedy Meadows in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, we settled along the Kern River bank to rest and listen for awhile. The granite boulders were immense stepping stones and some led out into the center of the river. A perfect place to reflect. The noise from the water quickly takes over and transports you, leaving me feeling buoyant and content. And a bit in awe of the natural beauty of that area. Not far from the Eastern entry to Yosemite National Park, an area that has many sculpted areas from the power of water, most impressively, Half Dome (formed by glacier movement), Kennedy Meadows is a stopping point for many backpackers journeying along the Pacific Crest Trail. I can only imagine the wisdom those backpackers return with after their long treks in the wilderness.
As River Wisdom unfolded, I was drawn to keeping the spaciousness within the piece that was conveyed to me by the river. I love to have a calm focal point that holds you in for awhile and is always there to come back to after exploring edges. Like a river is ever changing, I shifted the colors of the blues with various glazes to allow under texture to come through. These also remind me of the rocks below as you stare into quieter pools that are created by rock placement. Flowing white added an element of movement, too. I control the application of these carefully to keep freshness in the piece and quickly manipulate it while wet to restrict it to areas I want it to be in. Like water, paint can only be controlled so much before it moves into new areas!” – Patty Ripley on River Wisdom, available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC Canada