My daily meditation is my morning study of Christian Science. For those of you who are not familiar with this religion, Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century to “commemorate the word and works of our Master, Christ Jesus, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” I try to put into practice what I have learned each day in my painting studio as well as in my life in general. My goal is to set aside my ego and let divine Mind guide my every move.
The genesis of this body of work, “Certain Riches,” was an image of a rich red flower from a still-life by 17th century Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch. I painted a loose rendering of that flower into the deep smoky atmosphere of an earlier night garden painting from my Dark Arcadian series, made at the American Academy in Rome in the late 90s. The intense red burned out of the darkness. I tried another color, then another until I was satisfied with the cascading of many colors through the deep space.
In addition to floral borrowings from the Northern European tradition, I use flowers, leaves, insects from several other sources, as well as direct observation and photography.
The source for the large “Deeper” paintings was a very small black and white newspaper ad which I enlarged to create a deep green space that can be entered. I added a second system with falling flowers, which, suspended in silence, speak for me of fragile beauty and the ephemeral nature of worldly delights. Flowers traditionally represent the transience of life, a kind of memento mori; yet the very fact that they ever existed can afford solace and be seen as an intimation of beauty as an immortal quality.
Like paradise, the very absence of what once was causes us to long for it, a longing that may include melancholy, nostalgia even, but not only—also the sense that there is an unchanging principle behind beauty, a kind of soul, the idea of paradise as possible.