Have you ever noticed that the words “magic” and “image” seem to be from the same root word? A visual artist today has access to the entire history of art—to a vast museum of images from the subconscious that evoke ideas, emotions and feelings in the viewer.
I cannot always say where an image is coming from or where it is going. As an artist, my intent is to tap into what I call the “ocean of dreams” — what psychologists call the collective unconscious; a type of awareness that is pre-verbal and primarily visual in form and content. However, Jungian archetypes can only explain a portion of what is invoked during the process of painting. In my opionion, the best art uses images that defy explanation; things that cannot be traced back to any cognitive or logical origin.
Writers often speak of characters that spontaneously emerge in a novel, coming “alive” and even directing the author’s work. For me, a good painting also has a life and a direction of its own. Unpredictable and capricious, it can break free of the artist’s conscious control, and take an entirely new course. Instead of fighting this tendency, I welcome it; in fact I often set up the circumstances and environment where this kind of break can happen naturally. I look for the “happy accident” that allows me to glimpse something beyond my original intent — a chance to make the unseen seen.
By summoning the unseen participation of our collective unconscious, artist like me hope to evoke a “gut” reaction in the viewer —a feeling that defies words and logic. In my opinion, reaching that part of us is the holy grail in art. That is the magic, the alchemical effect, the distance abridged.