|Deep in the Void by James O'Brien|
I want the painting and the viewer to have an experience together. My goal is to convey to the viewer a philosophy embedded in the art—for the viewer to see how natural light can reveal new truths within the objects it affects, bringing into focus an unexamined life. Our surroundings hold a hidden key to our emotions and by documenting the relationships of light values and focusing on the space, I can convey an emotion to the viewer in a carefully calculated composition.
When painting landscapes, I begin with hundreds of thumbnails, each sketch conveying a different point-of-view or idea. I attack the canvas with aggressive and energetic brushstrokes. I don’t worry about color or the placement of anything, but attempt to capture the level of intensity or tranquility surging in the moment. When painting a mountain, my goal is to get the mountain on the canvas, capturing it the way it is; strong, tall, mighty—accessing it’s mountainness. In studying both traditional and contemporary landscapes, I observe the way light reveals and disguises the world around us.
After grounding the canvas with a primitive feeling, I begin to construct the skeletal structure of the image, allowing the brushstroke to flow with the composition—building mark upon mark—until finally achieving a satisfactory image.
For me it’s the visual relationships between objects that are most interesting and not, necessarily, the objects themselves. Visual cavities allow light to be perceived as if it is a divine energy full of life, communicating the secrets of sight—it can be a source of obscurity too, instilling darkness, confusion, and fear. Values of light imbue the viewer with emotion and reveal a world beyond time. By studying light’s soft and harsh qualities I create fantastic locations for the viewer to explore and bear witness to a wholly new perspective of life.
-James Michael O’Brien