World Views From A Landscape Painting

Mayon Volcano and Albay Gulf from Terraced Rice Field in Borabod, Manito, Albay.  acrylic on canvas. 24"x30". work in progress.   HERE's an updated post with the completed work.

This painting is waiting for it's two-hour fourth sitting.  I always wanted to work as fast and as boldly as Vincent Van Gogh while building disciplined and solid works as Paul Cezanne's.  In this work, however, I also wished I had the clean and well thought-out planes of the Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai and perhaps start a Mayon volcano series in the fashion of Hokusai's 36 views of Mt. Fuji.  After all, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were also influenced by Japanese prints.

Shore of Tago Bay, Ejiri at Tōkaidō from Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji.

I realize now even more that I paint nature because the process and the resulting piece of painting is an act of worship to the Lord.  It is not mere slavish copying of His creation.  Neither is it in competition with His creativity.  With every stroke that turns into a leaf, a shadow, an animal, a tree, an impression of light and day -- I glimpse into the power, the creative and rational mind, the sharp eyes, the listening ear, the warm heart, the gentle hand of Him who created such pleasantly diverse things.

At this stage I am still pre-occupied with subjective representational art.  Even the great Post-Impressionists did not reach pure abstraction although they fathered it.  The Fauvist Henri Matisse said of Paul Cezanne "he is the father of us all".  Vincent van Gogh, with all the expressive power of his colors and bold, confident strokes, and the torment on his head always started from nature and on several occasions blamed himself for ruining his plein aire/in situ paintings when finishing them from memory back in his lodgings.  Even the symbolist "primitive" Paul Gauguin wove landscapes based on identifiable places of the South Seas.

There will be a time for me to delve in abstract expression, hopefully also a phase and time for figures and history and concepts, but as of the moment my meager hours and resources are fully occupied by the subjective depiction of the joy, rest and melancholy of familiar sights that are here today and may be gone tomorrow.

The realizations from this post are born out of my guerilla hobby painting, watching the BBC series "Planet Earth" aired on channel 11, and the reading and re-reading of Genesis 1 and 2 on the Biblical accounts of creation.

I love God.  I love art.  I love nature.  I love science.  I love history.  I love society and governance.  I love everything that relates to these loves -- architecture, technology, archaeology, astronomy, theology, law, etc.  This is where I am coming from.  The convergence and inter-relation of all these loves form my world view.  My world view is the lense by which I see, comprehend, filter, evaluate, deal with, interact, and solve and resolve life.  My world view is formed by my past and it shapes my future.

Hence, whatever I paint and how I paint is an amalgamation (both conscious and sub-conscious) of my religious, artistic, natural, scientific, historical, social, political, and cultural beliefs.  Learned men and women have expounded on world views  in countless books and writings.

Why did I turn philosophical when I only intended to write a post on an unfinished painting?  Because the process and product of painting I consciously and subconsciously adopt are ultimately affected by my world view -- so do you in all your undertakings and thought processes.

The Christian element of my world view encompasses all the others.  It is tier one if there is a need for hierarchical ordering of the elements in my world view.  

Above I am in the process of painting a subjective representation of a symbolic rural Philippines. 

The process and result of the painting expresses my Christian faith in the joy of depicting God's beautiful creation and not let art simply be an intellectual pursuit nor a propaganda tool, so it should, at the very least, have a semblance of beauty despite my limited skills; .  My favorite Christian thinker, Francis Schaeffer, pointed this out when he wrote about the works of artists like Jasper Johns.  

Faith is expressed in my belief that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth, although the work is not a take on the debate between creation versus evolutionary science (of which I currently have a mixed belief and observations that merit a separate blog post).  This faith is also expressed in the thought that God will be pleased with me because I worshipped Him in the process and result of painting.  He is pleased with me because I find pleasure in painting with and for Him as I study, gaze at, and depict His creation.  He is pleased with me because I try to express and utilize one of the gifts that He personally decided to endow me with.

My love for art, nature and science are incorporated in the painting.  All these three loves are again influenced by my faith.  I love art because cognition and art appreciation is one of God's unique gifts to humankind.  Although animals have been shown to have amazing learning and adaptive capabilities, they do not measure up to the scientific capacity and achievements of humans.

My love for history as part of my world view is also expressed in the desire to depict what exists or what is seen at the moment, before climate change alters this provincial landscape and before development and other acts of humankind either improves and/or destroys this beautiful place.   My fear of human destructive intervention is expressed in the absence of human figures on the canvas.  This also reflects how Cezanne created the feeling of timelessness by eliminating human figures in a landscape as pointed out by art writers.   It seems that I would rather have the terraced rice fields and the two domestic cows represent human activity than literally painting them on the canvas.

Love for culture, society and governance as part of my world view is also expressed in the choice of subject because I believe in the development and support of farmers, the dignity and importance of agriculture in national development, and in the pursuit of helping farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor.  The choice of subject also expresses my belief in tourism for national development.

As I end and see the length of this blog post I take note that this is one other lesson on world views.  Our world views are part of us.  They make us who we are and do what we do even without realizing it.  We start a painting or any work or pursuit without realizing at first the breadth and deep seated effect of our world views.  

What started as a painting from a photo I took of an amazing volcano from our small farm turned out to represent who I am or what I believe and dream of as a whole.  

Everything we do or fail to do reflects our world view.  It helps to know what world view we are coming from so we can live lives consistent with our world views.  A lot of us are frustrated or disillusioned with life when what we do or what we see around us do not conform with our view of life.   Francis Schaeffer wrote about this extensively.

It would also help us to understand people living out their own world views.  We judge others because they have patterns of action that we do not approve of without realizing that that person cannot simply change his/her world view at the snap of a finger.

And finally to end where I began, my world view affects my choice of art, how I pursue it, how I perform it, how I appreciate it, what I intend to accomplish with it, how I hope others will be affected by it, how happy I will become because of it, how my God is honored and pleased in the process and as a result of it.  

In the same way I hope, if you've reached this far in the post, that you may pause to visit your own life and your views and start ordering it accordingly.  Perhaps you will find more rest and satisfaction, or perhaps you may find a need to re-think your life and views as I continue to do mine.

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