Getting Philosophical

What could be depicted here?










I imagine one of the common responses will be “a female figure”. If we pull back from this detail you can see that in the context of the image they are the roots of a tree. The multiple readings possible with a few scribbles are something an artist often does unintentionally and automatically. If I happen to notice these “side effects” they are usually scrubbed out. Now, due to my reading in the philosophy of Robert Hopkins I’m leaving them in- dealing with them.  I won’t try to summarize Hopkins’ philosophy, but I will summarize one of the main inspirations I took from his writings.


As a realistic artist that wants to communicate to my audience I have enormous control over my work that I can use to make meaning. In creating this image I have control over what they are in reality (roots) what they resemble in outline shape (feminine figures) and how I portray them in paint (not started). Though I have always had this control reading Hopkins has encouraged me to use it more consciously, and explore it directly. How I ultimately end up painting the roots will make a significant impact on how people will see them, and what place they will have in the painting. The situation gets more complex when you consider that roots in nature can often end up looking like figures “naturally”. We are left with a question: is seeing a figure in the roots a matter of artist intent, human nature, perception, or psychology?

All of the above?


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