This is my monthly page in 48 North magazine for February, 2013. You can browse the entire magazine online at the link.
So, we were at the Seattle Aquarium recently and Nancy was photographing the young sea otter, Sequi (she’s shot an entire sequence of the baby for over a year now). I was down in the tide pool room, poking around at the shrubbery in the open tanks – a real crowd of critters. I was reminded of some paintings I did for Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska last year. A ranger at the park, Chad Soiseth (hope I remembered how to spell your last name, Chad), sent me some reference shots of tube worms to paint from, and they were amazingly larger than the 4-6″ locals here in the Salish Sea. At the aquarium, most people were looking at the star fish and anemones, but there I was, of course, sticking my finger in the tube worms. It just seemed to be a painting waiting to happen, and so it did. The sequence was: kids poking starfish, then poking anemones, but no one cares about these cool worms. So, maybe I should paint THOSE guys for my monthly page – and so it went.
I truly believe, and thanks to my family, have always believed, that the job of an artist or writer is to not only to create good, competent and skillful work, but to push the viewer to a sense of wonder about something bigger, something larger than just the thing you made. Viewers should be taken to someplace that expands their world, not just ends at the viewing process. It’s not enough to just express myself on paper or canvas, but I try to figure out a way to make people say “wow, I never realized THAT, and maybe I should begin to care and wonder more than I do.”
And the subject doesn’t have to be physically ‘big’. Even a 6″ tube worm will do if the viewer has either never seen it before or seen it in quiet this way – or for that matter, even realized they didn’t care to even look. I sometimes reach too far in my complexity and forget most Americans are pretty clueless about nature, and so I have to reel myself in and go back to some basics. It would have been easy to paint and write about starfish, which everyone knows something about. But a feather duster tube worm?
Thanks for reading this week.
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