Portfolios of Recent Paintings
I have based my work on the natural world for many years, concentrating primarily on landscape painting. Recent works have led me to explore the question: "What constitutes landscape?" As I began to explore this issue, certain concerns emerged in my paintings. I found that, as a painter, my interest in the natural world was also related to color expression, patterns, and surfaces—the abstract qualities one finds in both the natural and man-made world. Though I continue to paint the landscape, some bodies of my recent work fall into the category of abstraction. I have included samples of each portfolio below. All paintings are oil on canvass unless indicated.
- Diane Stevens, Half Moon Bay, CA 2012
The larger issue in my paintings remains that of the land—which becomes a metaphor for the physical world and its myriad manifestations. In my paintings, I am able to explore this world and my connection to the universal conditions of life. The physical properties of paint echo those of the natural world, and the ritual of painting becomes a symbolic act that allows me to reinvent my world: to salvage the past and rearrange the present. As such, making a painting is both a paradoxical and optimistic statement. All paintings are oil on canvas.
A visit to Maine in 2008 led me to explore one of the elements that most interests me: granite. Naturally, there were many other aspects of the northeast that were novel, and which I also felt an overwhelming urge to portray. This series is concerned with what was once a “foreign land” to me, but one which I loved upon my first introduction. The views were luscious, and I was compelled to paint them. This section also shows many smaller format paintings of California and other landscapes. All paintings are oil on canvas.
In early 1999 I began a series of paintings that stripped the landscape to its most basic element—the horizon line. Within this context I've neutralized many of the elements that typically lead one to read a painting as a landscape. These pieces employ a square format as it does not suggest either the figure or landscape. I rely on color expression and paint quality to express, in an abstract format, the idea of the landscape. Some of the Horizon Line series can be easily viewed as landscape, while other pieces seem to have a flatter spatial quality and function more as pure abstraction. Ironically, one of the more abstract pieces is based very closely on observation of a field of marigolds with stripes of red and green running though the field. Other paintings contain landscape orientations but are completely derived from imagination.
In the fall of 1999 I made my second visit to Italy, and while there I found myself drawn not to the tourist sights, but to the qualities of the walls in the cities. This interest began in Venice—specifically on a trip to the outer islands of Burano and Torcello. When I returned, I painted two small pieces based on Torcello's bleak, weather-scarred geography. These I see as transitional paintings leading from the Horizon Line series to the Italian Walls series. Almost immediately I began to paint abstractions based on the walls I had spent so much time observing. Naturally, these are not literal descriptions of walls. They derive from my interest in color and surface. In some respects they are also a "nod" to western culture; a recognition of its influence upon my work and the work of countless other artists.