put down a color the paper will like

Earth, trees, sea and sky: Santa Cruz oil sketch. Copyright 2012 Robin L. Chandler

Like John Marin, I am a watercolorist who has begun to paint in oils.  In the the 1920s, Marin’s watercolors, as Winsow Homer’s before him, had again shown that watercolor need not be considered a second rate medium.  Seeking to explore new directions for his work, in the 1930s, Marin chose to experiment in oils. The experiment succeeded resulting in a dialogue across the two mediums spanning the rest of his life.   Marin’s choice of subject also draws me to his paintings.  Throughout his career, Marin was captivated by architecture but deeply inspired by what he described as the essential forces of nature: earth, trees, sea and sky.  Although sometimes associated with movements such as Abstract Expressionism or Surrealism because of his symbolic lines and evocative forms, Marin never considered himself a theoretician.  In the retrospective catalog of his work John Marin, 1870 – 1953: a centennial exhibit organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Larry Curry, curator writes “he had no patience with any kind of art that had its origin within the mind without reference to the outside world.  As a rule when Marin attempted to explain his work, he spoke of subject matter and his subjective reaction to it.”   Marin wrote “you cannot create a work of art unless the things you behold respond to something in you.”  Drawn passionately to landscape, my most successful paintings are born from a connection to place.  The paintings flow readily from this connection.  When I paint, Aldo Leopold’s words also resonate with me. In Sand County Almanac, Leopold writes,  “we abuse land, because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us; when we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Torn between a love of the road and a desire for roots, I am inspired to paint place when I sense the  intersections between land and people attempting to live honorably with it. John Marin, excerpted from the book John Marin by John Marin, strikes a similar note  when he describes how to paint a landscape. “First you make your bow to the Landscape – then you wait and if and when the Landscape bows to you then and not until then Can you paint the Landscape.”