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Artist Statement

by Steve Elmore
I paint because it interests me, challenges me, and pleases me to do so. My paintings are my learning process.

I have painted over 200 paintings, all oil on canvas, each numbered in sequence of creation beginning in 1999 when I first began painting. This sequence of paintings reveals my growth as a painter and progresses through several stages of development. The paintings begin with Hopi-influenced images. I was smitten with the glorious work of the great Hopi potter Nampeyo. I worked in this mode for almost two years, producing about 20 or 30 canvases.

I now live in a world where many things have wondrously come together for me. Much of this is due to the paintings themselves, which are saturated with the themes of growth, change, and ultimately, transformation. In showing the work, I am only continuing the transformation.

After the Hopi-influenced paintings of cosmic metaphors and birds in flight, paintings of nature's pure energy itself, abstracted and forceful, pure as underground cavern water and strong as a volcano, began to pour out of me. Many of these were obviously influenced by my wonderment at Carlsbad Caverns which I knew well from working there in my college days as a Park Ranger. Although I am visually expressing powerful forces of nature itself, in some of these paintings, abstraction takes over, and later becomes mixed with personal emotion. After my years in New York City, I felt disconnected from nature, the source of creativity. Now back in New Mexico, I felt plugged in to nature; I wanted it to speak directly through me.

Third, the calmness, the noble stolidity of the landscape began to intrude into the paintings. The landscapes provide a kind of order to the untamed images that preceded them.

Now I am trying to synthesize many different elements in a painting, from the raw randomness of nature to the tightly configured cityscape. This eternal conflict between nature and man is the source of much of the tension in my paintings.

I often start in an emotional state, and after getting an image in my head or perhaps scratching a primitive version on paper, I choose some colors, and release the feeling onto the canvas. Later, I return to the canvas and try to refine or build up the original image when I am calmer. The resulting image is a mix of emotion and afterthought, so that the images grows and alters as I swing back and forth between emotion and rationality. I am trying to depict both an outer and an inner landscape together.

April, 2007

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