Art has the ability to speak to everyone. Whether it is a complete distaste for it, a personal connection or just something pretty to look at. What is different about art is the evoking of emotion that can come from it. It can be a wall of feeling pulsing off canvas as you stand in front of it or the gentle ripple of thoughts that keep playing themselves over in your mind. The beauty of art is in the personal response.
In February, while attending a Seattle 1st Thursday Art Walk event, I was introduced to the art of Jeff White. His paintings nestled their way into my brain and heart; never to leave. The size of them was impressive (around 4-5 feet in width and just as tall) but it wasn’t the size that captured my attention. Each of the smallest brush strokes meant something. They correlated to the overall picture well while still creating a different response in me.
I was taking art classes that quarter with the endeavor in mind to create personal art. I, being the naive art student, thought that for it to be personal than it had to have people or certain items that were connected to you and you alone. Boy was I wrong! Jeff has been able to create not only a personal style but also a hidden space within himself that is portrayed in each and every painting and drawing.
After taking months of art classes that continually had me pushing myself to make anything called art, I was burnt out. I couldn’t envision standing at an easel to paint. It was all a fuzzy blur. In that time of frustrated bleakness, I would look at Jeff’s website. Life would become calm again. With the realization that Jeff lived in Portland, I decided to pay him a visit while visiting friends. He gladly invited me to come see his studio.
He explained to me that he paints his emotions in the clouds/sky of his landscapes. The copying of any one place is not his goal. He told me to take a picture if I wanted a true representation. (That statement set a part of my previous perceptions free.) Instead the moments in life of where he is at and the past that has formed him is what he paints. Each and every piece that he as done he can pinpoint the period that he was going through. Remarkably these pieces don’t have a dark feeling to them that would normally be associated with emotional or troubling times in one’s life. Instead there is a joy that wafts off of the canvas like freshly baked bread. The smell of reconciliation, acceptance and peace.
My deepest thanks goes to Jeff for taking the time to listen to a “small” artist ogle over his creations.