About The Artist

The Ghost in the Picture

I have been walking in the Sierras since I arrived in California, long ago.  A New York-raised couch potato, I was awed by the grandeur, delicacy, and vibrant energy of the land into becoming a walker.  I started hiking because I loved the landscape, but over time I came to need the hike itself, my body moving, vitalized by the challenge and beauty opening before me, ever-changing.  And the hikes and the visits became precious opportunities for unique and unforgettable connection with loved ones. 

 

The hiking made me want to paint and draw. I said no to that desire for many years.  But finally, I yielded to the intensity of my inner howl.  I wanted to take my adored landscapes home with me and make pictures grounded in close observation of their physical particularity, as well as my emotional and spiritual response to the landscape.

 

How to walk that line? --the line between capturing the specific, the recognizable, the physical existence of the natural world, on the one hand, and my particular, subjective lived experience and emotional and spiritual response to that world?

 

That question is there for me every day as I work.  I am not always the same.  Sometimes, more when I first started out, intensified description called to me.

 

As time has gone on, my desire to put the ghost into the picture has become my prevailing animator.  Most days. Sometimes the ghost is simply the tumult of memory and gratitude for the life I’ve gotten to live in glorious places.  Lately, with age, comes a heightened sense of impermanence.  Soon 10,000 feet may be too high, favorite trails may be too steep.  How do I paint the ephemeral, fleeting nature of existence?  How do I paint my experience of that, and still be painting the mountains, or the trees, or the water?  So, each attempt is a meditation on the big stuff.  And that makes me want to get into the studio every morning!

The World in a Tangle of Veggies

There came a time when veggies, and occasional fruit or flowers, became the metaphorical instruments that suited my art-making.  Cabbages, beets, onions, squash, cauliflowers, artichokes.  A bunch of sunflowers. Some apples. Week after week, at the farmer’s market, in neighbor’s orchards and yards, I fell in love with abundance –of beautiful fruits and vegetables, flowers, and nuts, great gifts from the earth, there for us to see, to touch, to smell, to taste.

 

As a child in The Bronx long ago, vegetables were canned.  The world I live in now is a great garden, bursting with living treasures.  When I paint and draw I am expressing and exploring my amazement, my love, and my gratitude for our generous and nurturing living planet, the people who cultivate its gifts, and the communities that work to keep it from destruction.

 

Painting edible gifts is always a reminder of the fragility of the ecosystems that sustain us, and of the inaccessibility of these gifts to so many.  I welcome the reminder of my obligations beyond art-making into my studio.

Photos, Transformed

“Into what?” I wondered.  Recently, at a time when I couldn’t find my painting rhythm, I sat by my computer, skimming through thousands of photos I’ve taken over the years.  I started idly, without conscious intention, to fiddle with my editing tool, and ten days later I had hundreds of landscape images that looked to me like paintings, and that seemed to walk that line between description and expression, between the physical world of nature and the mysterious world of ghosts, faeries, and epiphanies.  Some fell more one side of the line, some to the other.  That suited me, so I printed some and put them here.  I hope that you enjoy them.

© 2019 Barbara Haber