I was fortunate to attend the now famous Atelier Lack in the late 70's, when traditional art instruction was very difficult to find. Stephen Gjertson, my primary instructor, taught me more about seeing than any other. I still remember his direct, no frills instruction, pointing out time and again complex half tone areas and encouraging deeper vision because "if you can't see it, you can't draw it or paint it". How true. Yet art is more than technique. It is also about sensing, tapping into a world without words, trusting that world to guide, to instruct. This tension, this combination of honed skill and fragrance from the 'other side' compels me to explore the strength, beauty and complexity of the human condition. The subject of my art is the act of decision making ... the struggle for acceptance, the healing of a broken relationship. My goal - to simply connect with viewers. I make large pieces for the same reason Georgia O’Keefe made large flower paintings, it was a way she found to stop the busy people for a few seconds. As I am struck by the essence of someone, connecting to that quiet something I see inside, I try to communicate what I sense to others, hoping the strength of my image and the life of the viewer are drawn together.

 

As an example - I started the oil painting 'Between the Heavens and the Earth' by taking hi-resolution video of a model I hired from a Twin Cities agency. She was 15 years old and had a timeless quality and innocence that captivated me. She had a way of looking through me, as if she was content to dwell in a secret, sublime world. It’s a look I rarely run across and I created the painting (and two drawings) from that video session.  With the painting I tried to capture a direct simplicity hinting of the ethereal. I wanted the painting to be very calm, very unobtrusive, and very rewarding for those seeking a quiet type of visual refreshment. But at the end of the day it really is not about me or my thoughts. A picture has to stand on its own, and then hopefully it taps into and nourishes the viewer’s soul.

 

The method of creating the pictures in Gallery 2 is in stark contrast to those in Gallery 1. The first gallery is based on visualizing mass while the second is solely based on line. My fascination with line ties to my admiration of Eastern/Asian artists and their history of surrender to the beauty of line. Some of my line drawings stem from things I've seen, some are purely imaginative. 'Camille Claudel' was inspired by a famous photograph of her when she was a young apprentice to Matisse. 'Sun' is my attempt to describe a sunrise on a frigid morning in the northland. Those who have witnessed sundogs will know what I'm aluding to with this picture.

 

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© Dan Volenec