Nature Sublime: Landscape Painting by Todd L. W. Doney
Nature has been a vehicle of artists throughout the ages to express themselves and it is the impetus of my work. The landscape genre investigates painting's ability to record the authenticity of the real world and to communicate the artist’s experiences in nature. Yet, there is more to the painting of nature than simply an empirical interpretation. What I mean by this are the emotions, feelings, thoughts and concepts that artists delve upon to create their work. In my case these elements are influenced by the beauty and power of nature and paradoxically, its evanescence.
The effects of light on the land convey the cycle of nature, which is without beginning or end and is changing constantly. It is filled with dark, light, snow, fog, moon, stars, sunrise, and sunset. Changes in nature happen so expeditiously - i.e., the seasons, the time and the temperatures of the day, and growth of vegetation - that in my domain, which is the inspiration for my work, a landscape never appears in the exact same manner twice.
Other elements that affect the making of my paintings are nostalgia, isolation, and spirituality, which are all symbolized through the effects of light. Consequently, the paintings in my work may initially appear to be solely the result of direct observation, however they are actually a complex combination of these diverse elements reinforced by strong recollections of specific emotions that were felt while observing the scenes.
The images that form my work are inspired by hikes, photographs, and observations (not just visually, but also by sense of smell and of sound). The work examines nature through impassioned encounters wherein visual sensations affect emotions and they become a new emotional response. As John Dewey states, “Art is not nature, but is nature transformed by entering into new relationships where it evokes a new emotional response.” Therefore, the images from Nature Sublime are also a way of communicating unexpected or new emotions, as well as ideas pertaining to human perception. The work chronicles specific feelings that I experienced at specific times of day and attempts to convey those emotions to the viewer. In the words of Leo Tolstoy, “Art consists of conveying to others the special feeling experienced by an artist.”
The works from Nature Sublime have their roots firmly entrenched in various landscape painting traditions including George Innes, John Henry Twatchman, and Claude Monet as well as contemporary landscape artist such as Wolf Kahn, Charles Yoder, and April Gornik. With a genre as long and accomplished as landscape painting, it would be truly difficult to make a nature painting that doesn’t either deliberately or subconsciously relate to the legacy of the landscape. Therefore, I admit that my recent work was inspired by all the artists mentioned above. However, when I make a painting, I want to create work that is different and unique to myself. I am looking for something new, something that just might have been overlooked by the greats of the past and aspire to create the best art that I can.
Todd L. W. Doney