The old doctor in Laos saw me painting and said “Ah, an artist, the artist is never a prisoner of society.” I have thought of this moment often as I contemplate what is art and the role of the artist.
As society becomes increasingly external, building higher walls and looking for security in the material world, it is the artist’s role to reveal truths as we see them. Seeing the landscape through a painter’s eye may cause us to pause and remember the stillness within ourselves or the wisdom of mother nature. It may take Rembrant’s etchings of beggars to show us there is beauty to be found in all of humanity, or Picasso’s Guernica to reveal the horror of our wars.
The artist’s journey is an individual journey, and a spiritual journey. The painter wandering in the forest or sitting in the meadow is not sitting idly, waiting to be inspired. Many hours and days are spent making crucial decisions on what to leave out and how to orchestrate from all that we are given. We come to a painting like a poet to paper; not wanting anything other than to see what really is, and to translate that truth into something simple, something that comes from deep within our soul.
For the artist to come to this point takes much effort and courage. In a world
where so much is about doing, and things are seen as separate, where we call nature wild and ourselves civilized, the artist must put great effort into just being, remaining still, observing and translating using his own language.
The following works are the translations of my life to date, a giving back from all that I have been given.
Wendell Locke Field