Sunday, February 21, 2016

to see with the eyes of an artist

Today I went on a long hike with my oldest son and my grandson and our two dogs. We marched across semi-frozen prairie grass on an unexpectedly warm February day. The sun was warm on our heads, my one-year-old grandson was cheerful and full of profound exclamations that only a baby can carry off. "Sky!" "Goose!""Run!""Train!"
The landscape we enjoyed was flat and brown and mostly unremarkable for any geographic sights. The sky above was blessedly blue after a long grey winter in the Midwest. We were exploring a huge public land preserve west of the city of Chicago, some bits of forest but mostly empty land. Remains of corn fields perhaps, some marshland and a lonely train track cutting through.
This year I have not posted even once about how much I hate the winter! In years past this has been a theme of mine far too often. I have been focused on trips to museums and sketches from Italy in my blog writing which is a welcome change from my usual winter whining.
As we crunched through the tall prairie grasses both flatttened and mounded by the winter snows, and sloshed through frozen marshland I mused on how the landscape affects me differently now than it would have a few years ago. I have a friend and artist colleague who has spent the past years painting this very same landscape and through his paintings I have come to appreciate the beauty of the flat, brown, grey frozen prairie. I can say that now I will always walk out there on a nature preserve in this Midwestern land and be able to see it through his eyes.
The artist I am talking about is Joel Sheesley, he is Professor of Art at the college where my husband and son now teach. Here is another article about him.
Here is a link to the paintings that I am speaking of. Joel spent a year and more painting every day in the marshland near his home and near the hiking area that I walked today. I will always think of him and his mystical vision of this place we both live in when I view the land around me. Joel had a beautiful exhibit of the work last year which brought all the small moments of his time of daily painting together. I am proud to say that a year before that, my husband and I had purchased this painting for our own home.  It is titled March 10, 2014 and to look at it right now is to see the same view I walked through today again, peaceful, visionary, and beautiful as seen through the eyes of another artist.
March 10, 2014 by Joel Sheesley