“My California Dream”

Coastal Ranch

There has been a lot going on in the studio , not the least which is the culmination of an exhibition of a body of work at Sewell Gallery in my city of Eureka, California opening next week with a reception Saturday Night, October 6 during Arts Alive!

Its always interesting putting together a show, especially one like this that has been in the works for a while.  Beyond the landscape theme there is a narrative surrounding each piece and the group of work as a whole.   There were motifs I had been exploring throughout the past few years and more that were revealed when looking at the body of work as whole.    The show title,  “My California Dream”  came as organically as the paintings.   In addition to many rides over our local scenic Highway 36, and 299, I had made several road trips from one end of the state to the other over the past few years crisscrossing every bit of California’s terrain, and the landscapes and architecture I depicted in the ensuing work reflected varying physical, emotional and spiritual states of  my own psyche,  from blissful happiness, contentment to sadness and overwhelm.   Working out these subtle states of mind and emotional being through the depiction of a landscape is not new for me but its never been more apparent to me how an attempt at creating something beautiful is cathartic and satisfying on a deeper level.       I find myself utilizing pattern (vineyards and farms and streams zig zagging through Elk River Valley) to achieve a sense of order.   In a similar way, trees create a sense of stability and strength  and the contrast of light emerging from darkness is a reflection of a changing inner mood.   The richness of pastel pulls it all together for me.  Like writing down a dream first thing in the morning, the goal is to capture  the essence of the emotion quickly and spontaneously and then continue to work out the formal elements at a more measured pace.

Its always curious what jumps out at me visually — being visually aware is a constant for me when traveling and so the compositions that end up being painted are very deliberate if not randomly odd.  A big round tree next to a farm on the highway,  rain puddles in the rows of a fall vineyard, a bleached white house in the summer sun, a peek of blue siding beyond an overgrown garden peeking out like a secret,  a single rain cloud hiding the sun over the ocean….there’s usually something else revealed  with the longer gaze.

I find I am continually drawn to rural architecture, farm houses and barns.   I might not be if they hadn’t become part of my everyday experience living in Humboldt County.  Now I identify with them.    There is a quiet solitude that attracts me to include specific architecture prominently in a painting, almost like portraiture.

Together, these paintings tell a story not of high drama but of the subtle ebbs and flows of life and its challenges and triumphs.    I can remember exactly how I felt whenI painted every one of these paintings.   The viewer may have a similar response or they may evoke something entirely different.    For me,  its a form of a solidified visual, psychological and spiritual memory, like a dream.   It is my California Dream.

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Victoria Ryan