Katherine Nelson--"Land, Light, Form"


November 11, 2005 - November 26, 2005

Opening Reception: Friday, November 11 from 5-8 pm. 
Drawing Demonstration by the Artist: Saturday, November 12 from 1-3.



I draw from life, from memory, and from my imagination.  I have observed many landscapes in a well traveled life.  As a child, I lived in Europe and the Middle East.   Some of my experiences are the subjects of new landscape drawings. 

I have affection for the curving forms of ordinary landscape shrubs.  I see them through an idiosyncratic filter and they are no longer plain, but rather, monumental and theatrical in dramatic light. 

I like to create ambiguity in my subjects.   I view landscape as a tabletop arrangement of forms. I see all still life as potential subject matter for the landscape.  I see formal similarities and relationships of the most oddly unrelated items.  Brioche looks like topiary; topiary like sausages, bread and buns like human body parts...the list goes on.  I baked bread knots for still life observation because I enjoy their form and ambiguous implications. 

Some work is about simple everyday choices.  The French Cruller Decision is the image of the joyous and also humorously belabored decision of my son to select just the” right” donut. For a six year old pastry lover, that is a serious decision. “The one you touch is the one you eat” I tell him. No wonder he observes them with care looking for the most curvaceous and delicious selection! It’s also a great brief lesson on observation.  I love that he also notices the nuances between a really great pastry and one that is average. 

The Ravens depict both the unique black silhouette of a socially interesting bird who also by nature has been given a bad rap.  I find them to be fascinating and full of energetic character.   I could not resist drawing them into the context of Liar, Beggar, Thief

In the past two years I experienced both the extreme joy of giving birth to a second child and the contrasting grief of losing my father to a frightening and rare illness.  While not directly depicting these life altering events, I have symbolically addressed them.  My landscapes are more peaceful or more threatening depending on the “mood of the day” and perhaps the observer’s own perspective. This variable relates to the range of emotions which accompany birth and death. Some images are intentionally bathed in a particular ethereal light. The titles, End of the Road and Broken Fence are literal but also imply vulnerability and the choices made at the end of a life.  The images themselves are either peacefully freeing or otherwise threatening.  It’s all in how you look at it.  Is the cup half empty or is it half full? 

Into the Light is an image of a Turkish shepherd and his flock. My father took the image in a photo in 1977 as we were driving around the Central Anatolian Plains of Turkey looking for Akbash guard dogs. His original intent was to document our travels and research the existence of an indigenous dog which he and my mother later imported and developed in the USA as a rare breed.  He was talented with the camera...a man inquisitive of other cultures....the pursuer of adventurous and unusual educational experiences.    The image has etched itself a place in my mind and represents both collaboration and a unique family history.   After completing the piece I realized that the meaning of the new the image had multiplied beyond the original one of photo documentation.  It represents for me the ability to return home...the disappearance of flesh into dust...moving from darkness into light...leadership... families...an appreciation for cultures and my unusual childhood. 

Charcoal is a means for me to both visually express and create the drama I see in the environments around me.   I can depart from color without sacrificing elements of light, value, shape, texture, and thereby, further exaggerate the subject.   Charcoal is technically a dry medium but I find it to be totally liquid as I manipulate it across the surface of my paper.  It is also the most illuminating medium as I spend just as much time erasing the image as adding to it to create a finished art work.