fig. 13: Taos Canyon Interlude
fig. 14: Rinconada
Living in northern New Mexico made me a landscape painter. I was art-educated on the east coast during the 1960's and leaned strongly toward abstraction and conceptual art. However, almost immediately upon moving to Taos in 1973, I began to go outside to paint. Having been raised in southeastern Ohio, I knew hills (the edge of the Appalachians) and rivers (the Ohio), but it was too enclosed, too inhabited for me to notice. When I came to the southwest, I fell in love with the starkness and the largeness of space. Variety of form, crystalline air, colors unseen before to me (yellows and oranges carried through the air without being "blued" by moisture) drew me outdoors day after day.
Originally I was drawn to interpret the landscape, plein air discovery of the "bones" of the place, refining the basalt skeleton upon which this convulsive terrain hangs. I was establishing a meaningful perspective, both literally (within the picture plane of the painting) and figuratively (within my own world).
Over the years I became more involved with the "musculature and blood," the bulging undulating forms of forest and river and to rendering my emotional responses to them. I moved planes and contours to suit my fancy. During this time my dreams began to interact with painting, sometimes with prescience, until I got confused about which came first, the dreams or the paintings.
Late in 1996 I suddenly began to change from alla prima painting, pigments laid down in a single application, to glazing, the layering of translucent layers over the surface evoking the feeling of "skin." Why this anatomical approach to painting, relating the landscape to my body? I do not know, but it has been interestingly developmental.
Now my work is bursting all boundaries, explosive energy is disrupting the forms, as they move toward abstract. Perspective is gone. After twenty-five years of being beaten up and down by the sun and wind, my work and my life have been sculpted in unimaginable ways. My world has become as large as this vista; I hold that expanse within me.
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All text and images © Barbara Zaring.