“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