Interpreting an artwork is ultimately personal and subjective to you, the viewer.
Knowing the artist’s interpretation can also make for a meaningful viewing experience. Ideally, you find a balance between the two.
I aim for that sweet spot when I share my artwork with others. Subjective interpretation is not only inevitable, but welcome. I also hope to add new ideas and feelings that may not have otherwise surfaced.
My latest series, “The Hero’s Journey,” is divided into four distinct sections that each represent a phase in one’s personal journey – otherwise known as “life.”
In this post I’ll be focusing on the first section: “Odyssey.”
If there is a uniting factor in the artworks for “Odyssey,” it’s physical landscape.
That said, these landscapes are anything but earthly and ordinary.
Think of some classic, tried-and-true favorite stories that you’ve read, maybe starting from childhood. The most beloved and universal of all time often are about journeys and adventures. This is one of the most enduring themes in literature – the Hero’s Journey – and it features a brave protagonist who is called on adventure.
Consider this painting, “Yonder,” for a moment.
What time of day is it?
What is the feeling you get as you look out towards the sunny horizon?
Are you instilled with a sense of hope and excitement?
Or maybe a calm sense of direction?
Colors and textures that reflect our emotions rather than literal reality can make the artwork itself feel more real.
Extraterrestrial imagery evokes the same wonder and primal feelings (excitement, fear, happiness) that we had as children when reading about our favorite heroes and heroines who braved daring journeys in search of precious treasure or artifacts.
While our quests in life today may be less physical and romantic, they are no less real – and at the bottom of all of them is still that same sense of wonder and hope.
It’s my interest to help viewers reawaken their imaginative sides and become more in touch with that sense of wonder and thoughtfulness.
Trials and Tribulations
Every journey has a low point.
Aeneas must descend to the Underworld to find his ancestors, Bilbo must solve Gollum’s riddles to escape the depths of the cave he’s trapped in.
The physical-like terrain in “Odyssey” reflects those more challenging phases as well. These low places, however, are an opportunity for us to test and prove ourselves to rise to greater heights with newfound understanding and appreciation.
The Road Less Traveled
Ultimately, we’re alone on our journey.
Loneliness may be a test of endurance, but the “aloneness” is also a ripe opportunity for introspection and understanding of self. In all these landscapes there is no sense of other creatures present – it is you alone with the scenery, with your thoughts, hopes, dreams and emotions.
As your progress through landscapes that are welcoming, hostile, or ambiguous your fears and anxieties may be put to the test – and from them you will emerge triumphant, confident that you will find (in time) what you are looking for.