For me, the best journey meanders with stimulating activity then places to rest. Have you ever hosted a child’s birthday party!? Frenetic keyed-up energy laced with games and sugar then the big couch cozying crash when everyone goes home. Those are extremes! Our lives are works in progress and some of us live with those extremes daily. They become a habit. I prefer to take new risks balanced with allowing recovery time to let the experience sink in.
Many times we seek the culmination as the reward. It’s nice and often memorable! At times, people strive for that, only to feel empty later. I like the culmination to be a memory of the point of the journey that brought you to deep awareness so that later you can reflect and use that point in time to move forward. It becomes the launching point for reflection! What’d I learn from the experience? How do I use this in my life?
In this painting, you’ll notice the movement carrying you up along a central shifting path. Stimulating areas of color, glazes, line and brushwork are balanced by the contrast of calm, soft grays that extend within and hold the powerful energized areas. Like a tapestry, this composition has a warp and weft that brings together the pieces. There is gel medium underneath it all that brings texture that contrasts to the smooth canvas. There are controlled drips and sharper linear lines that move the eye. The painting has many many layers and strategic transparent and opaque glazing add another element of contrast. Letting the layers, movement and contrasts be the source for conveying the many aspects of a journey leading to that climactic moment.
“Spirit Ridge is a culmination of experiences and is an abstraction that allows the viewer to feel these. Avidly hiking these past years in the Pacific Northwest and California, I notice how yes, the ridge point, tends to be the pinnacle of the hike. It’s where the culminated effort and forward momentum comes to a stop (and many times food or snacks are involved!). The body slows and relaxes and even if the view is diminished by weather, there’s a peacefulness that pervades as you become attuned to the silence and the surroundings. And that peacefulness often follows you back down the trail as you notice with fresh eyes the new vistas from a new direction.
I take these experiences back to the studio. Not consciously, though internally, and they become the expression that fuels the choice of color, texture, line, contrast and movement within the composition. It becomes a channeled transmission of an adventure. With Spirit Ridge, I had a sense of a totem during the process as I began to see shapes emerge within the painting: An animal staring to the right; water element running below all; light traveling through forest above; and the stability of rock within.
How do you know when the painting is done? For me, it’s like the last puzzle piece that falls into place and that feeling of ease from completion becomes almost a feeling of neutrality where I know nothing more can be added. This painting has a lot of texture and when I thought it was done, I’d return to studio and realize that it’s not there yet and I know because I feel unease, literally, in my body. They say the body knows so I’ve been respecting that inner wisdom. Much like the ease felt at the top of the ridge after a long climb.” – Patty Ripley on Spirit Ridge, available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC
Have you sat on a boulder midstream of rushing rapids lately? I have, and highly suggest you try. It was an amazing experience. Exploring early this summer outside of Kennedy Meadows in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, we settled along the Kern River bank to rest and listen for awhile. The granite boulders were immense stepping stones and some led out into the center of the river. A perfect place to reflect. The noise from the water quickly takes over and transports you, leaving me feeling buoyant and content. And a bit in awe of the natural beauty of that area. Not far from the Eastern entry to Yosemite National Park, an area that has many sculpted areas from the power of water, most impressively, Half Dome (formed by glacier movement), Kennedy Meadows is a stopping point for many backpackers journeying along the Pacific Crest Trail. I can only imagine the wisdom those backpackers return with after their long treks in the wilderness.
As River Wisdom unfolded, I was drawn to keeping the spaciousness within the piece that was conveyed to me by the river. I love to have a calm focal point that holds you in for awhile and is always there to come back to after exploring edges. Like a river is ever changing, I shifted the colors of the blues with various glazes to allow under texture to come through. These also remind me of the rocks below as you stare into quieter pools that are created by rock placement. Flowing white added an element of movement, too. I control the application of these carefully to keep freshness in the piece and quickly manipulate it while wet to restrict it to areas I want it to be in. Like water, paint can only be controlled so much before it moves into new areas!” – Patty Ripley on River Wisdom, available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC Canada
“Do you listen to your unique navigation system that longs to bring you home? Like salmon and their amazing journey from river to ocean then back to the exact same river again to die. Traveling upstream takes trust and perseverance, uncomfortable at times though necessary to reach new levels. Yes, I ponder these things while I paint. I do! Deep diving happens in the painting process and it’s one of my most favorite things! This painting opened the door to a fresh path that I’m now exploring in series. I love it when that happens.
As this piece progressed, the upward movement within the composition beckoned ‘journey’. Fluid drips of paint amidst the calm blue greys of watery misty stone with a central path of flipping, warm color-fueled line and shape. And to attain this, I have to skillfully work quickly with the acrylics to keep the gradations fresh and especially to allow the rhythm of the painting to flow and not to become too thought out. I am a playful innovator. Patient too, as the layers need to dry a bit before fresh paint is applied. And the finishing touches can come as a sudden flash of what’s needed. Such as within this piece, I’d nearly completed it with brush work though knew it needed more. Coming back later to it, I improvised and used a scraper tool to achieve bold thin lines that added the punch the painting needed. I use intuition and that allows for unique choices, in paint and in life. How many journeys do we embark on before we realize they’re important life changers? I like to remind myself that any journey, adventure or technique can be a pivotal one and I like to live within presence so I can savor that. ” – Patty Ripley on Journey Upstream, available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC
“Have you tried to see through the powerful mist? Listened to the force of the water cascading? Felt the droplets spray your face? That’s the power and beauty behind the veil of the falls. I remember once in Hawaii standing behind a tall waterfall and being showered by it’s spray! Here on the west coast, large falls draw crowds and create nervous anticipation. The strength of water is amazing with it’s carving force and flowing grace. In this painting, I created contrast with small calm areas this time and more texture and variety in bigger areas. Soft yellow starts at the base and then carries the eye up to the ridge line. There’s a kaleidoscope effect in this piece as passages angle in and out. Shapes move and it’s unclear why. Drips happen. Controlled and not controlled. Charcoal lines push firmer darks. Angles are oblique and squared. Is that a cliff? Is that a waterfall? Where’s the water going? I love creating questions for the viewer. An experience to behold while imparting a feeling at the same time. I see a face….someone says. I see a ridge, mist and water and it’s being held in from all around…. says another. We experience paintings like we experience life; varied and as our own. Pushing our view on another is fruitless and staying fluid is important. Being like water. Going with the flow yet being a powerful force at the same time. And seeing beyond what’s there. Behind the words is usually the truth. How often do we go behind the falls and look out at the distorted beauty? Or experience a new reality by putting ourselves in challenging places? Veil Of The Falls reminds me to do these. Take risks. Look for beauty beyond. ” – Patty Ripley on Veil Of The Falls, available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC
Feeling the depth of water while staring longingly at it. The pull and the delicious invitation that brings you closer to look. Yes. I’ve been to many edges that open my eyes wider and bring me to a new level of experience. Had one this spring as we hiked in Mount Baker Regional park before the snow melt and hadn’t expected the trails to be … covered in snow! And again, last summer in the same area, had a whole lake in front of us waiting to be jumped into on a hot day. Or walking along the shoreline at Deception Pass as the coastal waters reveal themselves from the layer of fog, cedars at the ready on the shore of rock cliffs.
Calling In is again a journey piece. Not reflecting a specific place, though reflecting those places I’ve been that impart the experience of living wholly. Feeling the air against my face. Feeling the rock beneath my feet. Branches against my arm. Mist surrounding me. Sun shining down in a broken way through forest trunks and branches. Hearing streams travel over rock. Eagles calling overhead. Slipping on moss and crunching on leaves and needles. Smelling cedar bark and tripping over roots. Choosing a small stone to return with to remember the day.
Pouring paint and letting drips dry. Scraping into areas with fingers and tools. Brushing out a big expanse over and over with gradated washes of acrylic to attain the best layer to share. Choosing a vital warm color to pop some energy into an otherwise quiet area. Focusing vitality into one passage to bring the eye up to where woods meet water…or rock … or nature’s spirit. Again, contrasts of wide open space and active busier sections. Yin and Yang. Up and Down. Travelling passages. Life. ” – Patty Ripley on Calling In; available at The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, BC