Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Roots are Showing!

If you've been a regular reader of my other blog, then you probably are aware that I have roots. Deep ones.

Once you feel you truly belong somewhere, once you achieve that sense of place, there's nothing that can cover those roots.

I'm from Montana. I consider myself a Montanan, even though I haven't been registered as a permanent resident for, oh, about 25 years. But the clean air and big skies run through my veins, and every summer when I return to visit family, it's like going home.
Since I don't live there anymore, I make Montana an inspiration for my art. In looking at the photo above, which has not been altered in any way, can you begin to see how the beauty is everywhere? I think that's what impresses me so about the Big Sky State. No matter where you turn, there's nature at its finest.
When I first started pastels, my wife mentioned that the skies in my paintings were the wrong color of blue. "No they're not!" I replied, whisking my painting back downstairs amid muttered mutterings. "What does she know? Has she ever really looked at the sky?"
It wasn't until our next trip out west that a random comment on the shores of Flathead Lake solved the mystery. "You know, the skies out here in Montana are so blue! I can see why it's called the Big Sky State!" That's it! That's why she thought my skies were the wrong color. Midwestern skies are wimpy by comparison. Pale. Sickly.
Not only the colors, but the shapes, too. If you look closely, nothing in nature is straight. I think that's why I incorporate so many curves into my jewelry. The lake's shoreline curves. So does the river. The clouds certainly aren't straight, and even the tallest Engelmann Spruce tree has some sort of crick in it.
I don't think I could ever paint anything but landscapes. I struggle with the symmetry and perfection of still lifes, and portraits? Forget it. When you grown up in the most beautiful landscape there is, how can you not paint it?
Maybe that's why there were more art galleries than grocery stores in the little town where I grew up.
And now I have kids. And while they visit Montana every summer, their roots will be different. Midwestern. I'm not sure how I feel about that.


Jamie of ItsieBitsies said...

Wonderful Matt!
And you never know about their roots - I grew up in OH and now cannot see the sky any less blue than it is in Montana.

Lucy said...

I am a Midwestern and never had the urge to go West, our trips always were east or South. I decided I needed to be the 'good' mom and take my kids to the Grand Canyon. The most awesome trip of my life, we also went to Utah to Bryce Canyon and Zion. The sky out West is amazing and we are making plans to move to a little town in Arizona as soon as my daughter graduates, noone here (midwest quite gets it!)Just too beautiful to explain.