Accessing the Inner Eye

"Everything has two aspects: the current aspect which we see nearly always and which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical abstraction." Giorgio de Chirico

I view the world around me and it is beautiful. I love the way light filters through tree limbs and splatters on pavement. I love the dappled shadows that hesitate on the surface of the ground. The colors of the light as the pass through humid air. The sinews of forms as leaves dry and curl.

I have a fascination with this outer world. Observation without thought. Taking in the colors and shapes without labeling them. I can sit and stare for long periods with eyes slightly unfocused taking in a single point. It is as if I am looking through the object. Sometimes my stare intensifies upon the edges of the shadows and the silhouette of the form or grazes lightly upon the textures. Sometimes that gazes penetrates the recessed shadows or glides across the lacquered surfaces of colors and tones.

In order to access an internal vision, I must drink in my external surroundings first. My paintings of objects come from intensive observation. Minute details are points of fixation. The whole must be broken down into its abstract parts. This does not lead me towards greater naturalism though and this is not my goal. I find it unnecessary to reproduce, in absolute fidelity, the external beauty that I take in.

"A real artist is the one who has learned to recognize and to render... the 'radiance' of all things as an epiphany or showing forth of the truth." -Joseph Campbell

What is the point of rendering the reality of exactly what one sees. It is a technical exercise, but the "truth" of its correctness as a comparison to physical reality is no illumination of its beauty. A sunset faithfully painted is beautiful. What makes a painting of a brick just as wonderful?

“Anyone who has had an experience of mystery knows that there is a dimension of the universe that is not that which is available to his senses. There is a pertinent saying in one of the Upanishads: When before the beauty of a sunset or of a mountain you pause and exclaim, ‘Ah,’ you are participating in divinity. Such a moment of participation involves a realization of the wonder and sheer beauty of existence. People living in the world of nature experience such moments every day. They live in the recognition of something there that is much greater than the human dimension.” Joseph Campbell

This is what it is to see with the "Inner Eye" and to create work grounded in that personalized vision. In my attempt to create earnest spiritualized work, I seek methods that allow me to break away from simple imitation.

Subject matter which is mundane and lacking in controversial elements gives me room to infuse it with meaning and mood derived simply from color, light and the abstraction its its forms. When I work, I seek to induce a spiritualized version of the observed reality by forcing recollection. On an immediate scale, I observe a section of my subject for an extended period and then must look away and work. I try to get into the "zone" where my action is automatic and my internal intellectual criticism is held at bay. The best work is when threads of thought enter my head and I am able to let them dissolve as quickly as they appear. Let them go. My movements react to my senses and my mind is engaged though my brain is left to wait.

I have begun to further induce the symptoms of recollection over direct observation so that my inner vision muddies the clarity of external truth. I do drawings in black and white and I make paintings from the drawings. The preliminary work is purposefully left incomplete so the "correct" colors and exact shapes are only implied and their completion is left to my memory. Sunlight becomes Naples yellow, crisp, cold and shinning off the surfaces of objects. The grey in shadows harbors a rich crimson or is subtle blue. My greens turn yellow and brittle, no longer hostage to their observed plastic reality while my blacks become a supernatural violet brown.

"The Chief aim of color should be to serve expression as well as possible...I discover the quality of colors in a purely instinctive way...my choice of color does not rest on any scientific theory; it is based on observation, on feeling, on the very nature of each experience." - Henri Matisse
"...instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use color more arbitrarily so as to express myself forcibly." - Vincent Van Gogh

It is a difficult endeavor. I am forced to compromise between what I know, what I see and what I feel is correct. They never match. Sometimes they seem irreconcilable. Unlike when I work from direct observation, I can rarely work on a piece linearly. I reach a point and I cannot continue. I am at a loss for what to do so I put it aside and work on something else. Its a precarious way to work as I have no reference for what is correct. This is why it is liberating as well. There is a special authenticity to development of an inner vision that demands no apology for its inconsistencies.

"I think that when one is young, it is the object, the outside world that fires one's enthusiasm; one is carried away by it. In later life, it's something within himself, the need to express an emotion, that leads a painter to choose his point of departure, one form rather than another." - Pierre Bonnard

**Image: "Ophelia" by Odilon Redon 1903 Pastel on Paper

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