Sunday, November 20, 2011


I heard a while ago the idea that many secularist people are treating environmentalism and conscious food consumption as a new sort of religion. Maybe this is so and maybe I am a believer.

I think about this when I wonder why I am drawn to the organic farms I have been painting. Wild nature, not arable land, is the traditional subject of nineteenth and twentieth century American and Canadian landscape painters. But for me there is something brutal about nature. I walk in a forest to be filled with awe, but not to find comfort. If one of the functions of religion is to bring solace to the human condition, then I  look for this solace in the gently managed landscapes of sustainable farms. They remind me of all that is positive in being human. They are places of nurturing.

For much of human history art has been used to express ideas of religion. Giotto did not paint still lifes. Raphael did not paint abstracts. The study of European art history is frequently the study of religious expression. (Music of course followed the same journey) Some think that the greatest European art of the pre Renaissance was the cathedral - a celebration of art, science and community, drawn together under the flying buttress of religion.

When I am alone in a farm field, surrounded by the extraordinarily harmonious combination of nature and civilization, I am consoled as my medieval great great grandmother must have been when visiting her church. And maybe she also felt this when tending her crops at the end of a long day.

This painting is 36x48 inches and is oil on canvas. It is a reworking of a painting I started a couple of years ago. 

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