Monday, October 01, 2007

Beauty is the Mystery of Life...

My main job on the Oracle cards is developing the collaged backgrounds. In essence, creating the world in which these symbolic, magical creatures exist. In their most basic form, the worlds are a horizon line that divides that which is above from that which is below - very minimal, but at the same time MAXIMUM.

Above Left: "Untitled," by Agnes Martin.

I hate to admit this, but at one point I did not like landscape painting. Perhaps it's that growing up in Florida, the only "art" I was really exposed to was landscape paintings via Bob Ross and his PBS show. When I fled to New York, I wanted nothing but to rebel against my "roots" and embrace formalist abstraction.

After years of study, I began to grow a new appreciation for landscape painting. At first I dissected the images with the eyes of an abstractionist. I boiled down the compositions into the fundamentals of line, shape, color, and their relationships to one another within a work. Eventually I found myself lingering in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum that featured landscape work, instead of making a bee-line directly to the contemporary and abstract rooms. I had kindled a curiosity towards these paintings. In understanding the formal qualities which made up a picture, I allowed myself to bask in the sheer beauty of a piece. I let myself become enamored with their mystery.

Left: "Morning in the Riesengebirge," 1810-11, by Casper David Friedrich.

In working on the cards, I was struck by how much they relate to Minimalism and spiritual landscapes. One of my favorite Minimalists is Agnes Martin and her famous stripe paintings. They are the quintessential rudiments for natural beauty, perhaps exemplifying best the idea of capturing the horizon and summarizing the world in a single iconic image. So simple, yet very powerful. Many of the landscapes that I grew to love and appreciate that easily come to mind are from the Romantic Era of art, especially the works of Casper David Friedrich and J.M.W. Turner. Their work embodies the transcendental moment of beauty.

Left: "Staffa, Fingal's Cave," 1832, by J.M.W. Turner.

It's funny how my thoughts on beauty should come full circle, as I reflect upon the writings that Agnes Martin did. She wrote an essay, "Beauty is the Mystery of Life" (CLICK HERE to read it) that was apart of a collection of essays and ideas called, "Uncontrollable Beauty: Towards a New Aesthetics." The first lines read:

"When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection."

While working on the oracle cards and planning out my future works, these are a few of the things that are floating around in my head - meditations on life, beauty, mystery, and perfection.


Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

this is so good and so interesting you just taught me tons and flipped me out. thanks Andrew

Anonymous said...

hi andrew! i like that quote about beauty. great entries on art by the way.

hey thanks for dropping by my blog. how did you find it anyway?

mind if i link you up?

Unknown said...

Thought provoking musings! I too, thank you for stopping by my paper doll blog.

Anna said...

I like your works. Let me say to you are very talent.
Thanks again from Italy!


Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Jean! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. Hopefully I didn't flip you out too much. It's always my pleasure to share.

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Claire! Thanks for stopping by. I couldn't sleep early this morning and ended up surfing the blogs - stopping here and there and who knows where. Feel free to link up. What exactly is your blog address again?

Andrew Thornton said...

Hello Janey! Do you know the paper dolls of Amy Earles? She's got an Etsy shop. You can visit one of her projects here:

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Anna! Thank you so much! I have always wanted to go to Italy. In fact, I had made plans to go this past summer. But the leaves are changing here and it signifies that another season has passed and I have yet to make my great voyage across the Atlantic to Italy. Though, who knows... perhaps I will make it out next summer or so? I hope so. I've always wanted to go.

Anonymous said...

hi andrew i linked you up in my blog already.

my blog address is

it would be nice to know another artist from your end of the world.