Stephanie London

"I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction." 

 

--Saul Bellow

 

This quote from Saul Bellow sums up why I paint - to calm the storm within and steal moments of beauty, quiet and stillness. The only other moments I experience this type of peace and tranquility is in my Buddhist practice and when I'm near or on the water.

 

My latest body of work is a collection of still life paintings with a few added landscapes; landscapes having to do with water.

 

The still life paintings are of objects I found in thrift stores, on eBay or at flea markets. These objects have histories of their own and are now my treasures to use as actors upon a stage, creating small dramas where reflections and shadows are as important as the objects themselves. Although I'm interested in exploring the formal elements of painting - color, light, and composition - what primarily motivates me as an artist is the challenge of allowing for something else to appear, something intangible, mysterious, perhaps suggestive of a personal narrative though not in an overtly conscious way. Also, there is a certain quality of paint that I chase in pursuit of capturing an ever elusive feeling.

 

The two new river paintings are from photographs and memory. They are of rivers in Germany, the Trave and the Spree, where the light is cooler, the sky grayer, and the mood altogether different than the sunny carefree skies of California, which is where I live.

 

The two ocean paintings are an extension of my last series of iceberg paintings. The ocean representing those forces in life that are vast, powerful and frightening: the perfect metaphor for the unfathomable mystery of life where most of the action takes place beneath the surface. 

 

Lastly, the themes that continue to reoccur in my work are ultimately linked to my practice of Buddhism and are attempts to visually capture or communicate that stillness or "arrest of attention" that Saul Bellow speaks of.  The same or similar experience one finds in prayer and meditation. It involves a quieting of the mind where one connects to a more spiritual existence and, for a few moments, a place where one can experience a reprieve from the chaos within.