The concept for Glimmer came to mind as I walked along White Oak Bayou several days after a storm had surged through the area. Due to a high level of debris in the water there were eddies and pools and backwater ripples on the surface with reflections and highlights gleaming into my eyes.
I was searching for a source image to broaden my painted meaning. Although my work often takes off from site-specific phenomena (local bayou waterways) my objective in content is deeper and wider. Moving water is an example of energy flow, electricity, and is also connected (for me) to brain chemistry and the flow of intellectual and emotional processes in the brain.
An underlying motivation for my work is an effort to be fully present in the moment that I take in source experiences, meaning that I strive to really see and feel and absorb the whole moment, including the scene, the color, the heat, the light, the air, as well as my personal conscious and semi-conscious “emotional weather.” I may sketch or photo the source site as well to cement the experience. If I can fully open to the experience I may be lucky enough to translate it to an image on paper or canvas later in the studio.
Glimmer became an expression of the multi-layered forces of White Oak Bayou as it sought equilibrium on a specific day after a flood, as well as my flow of thought and feeling as I groped for a new visual realization of my meaning. And as Glimmer began to manifest on the easel I glimpsed a new set of insights about my painted meaning coming into focus.
About Sunrise Tomorrow:
A foggy day in late spring of 2016 found me wandering the banks of Little White Oak Bayou with my husband, Jack. We were new to our home and the Community Park that borders Little White Oak. At the time the trees and banks were full of debris. Plastic bags and other remnants of urban life hung in the branches like reverse prayer flags. The fog almost obscured the bloated ripped mattress that was lodged in a split tree spilling its stinking shredded foam into the water. Humidity was high as the temperatures climbed.
I remember how hard it was to stay present in that moment. We really wanted to slip into a fantasy future where we could figure out a solution to the polluted waterway. I strained to see the small spots of light on the water surface that flickered in and out of focus as the fog drifted. I struggled both emotionally and visually to process the scene before me as my brain ping-ponged into overload. We took some photos and climbed the hill back to our home.
Later in the studio SUNRISE TOMORROW developed. Based on my memory of the fog, the rising heat and elusive reflections on the water surface, the painting came to investigate that part of the creative process where the brain is trying to piece together a whole image out of disparate, jarring and visually fleeting parts. A big part of the creative struggle was my “emotional weather” from the experience. The image developed a sense of intense suppression of the visually disturbing scene and a tamped down anger at the way we pollute our waterways. The fog drifting over the image cannot completely hide the disturbance beneath.
- Ellen Hart
About the Project:
As musical ensemble-in-residence for Sawyer Yards, Houston’s own Loop38 is partnering with seven visual artists from the Sawyer Yards community to present workshops, demonstrations, and performances that explore the world of graphic scores. Every Second Saturday, a resident artist will select one of their works of art to serve as that day’s musical score. Curious listeners and contemporary arts lovers will witness the classically-trained musicians of Loop38 turn each visual masterwork into an aural delight.