shay herring clanton
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watershed project
Artist’s Statement
Shay Herring Clanton

Eye: The point where an underground spring suddenly bursts to the surface is known as an eye. It is a place of mystery, where dry ground becomes soaked with life giving water, and nature gives us a glimpse of all that happens out of the realm of human vision.
Jan DeBlieu from "Home Ground Language for an American Landscape”.

My recent paintings are inspired by the mountains and rivers and streams of my home on Walker Mountain near Deerfield Virginia and by the landscape of my childhood home in North Alabama. In the work, I seek to evoke the spirit of place, a term not easily defined intellectually, but better understood instinctually and emotionally and perhaps best expressed in the realm of art.

The watercolors are part of an ongoing series of paintings of rivers and streams and springs that I have been working on for several years, some of them in a personal journal-like form that are not exhibited. They are always done from direct observation and they attempt to capture the distinctive character of each place and the changes of light and color that happen day to day and minute to minute.

The oil paintings are also landscape inspired and they are executed on gessoed paper and on canvas. I usually work on them in the studio, from photographs, drawings and memory, and I often return to the same place over and over to observe the changes of light, weather and season in a particular place so that I can incorporate them into the painting. This medium, for me, is a slow process of building and layering and the work becomes less about the moment and more about a kind of personal connection to the place.

I am always drawn to the quality of light in a place, in both a physical sense, and in a way that is also symbolic. Light, as a physical phenomenon, is the source of all life on earth and has a universal meaning for human beings (and perhaps all beings, both plant and animal) that touches on the spiritual and the recognition of a larger more intangible force that is present in the natural world.