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I find myself collecting traces of people's lives. Memories misplaced in need of recognition; old letters; vintage matchbooks; boxes of aging paper treasure. Using vintage ephemera in my work is a way to pay homage to those memories, those lives. In a world that is becoming more digital each day, I'm driven to bring new life to objects that may otherwise be lost and deteriorated in time. The challenge I seek is to maintain a balance between working with such old objects and recreating them in a contemporary artwork that holds the test of time.
As an artist, I find difficult to answer: is it I who defines painting or is it painting that defines me... Either way, it is both a transpersonal and a narcissistic relationship. The process of painting creates a state of Liminality, which leads to the discovery of my own essence. It is like writing a fable, one without words and one that is rather suggestive in nature. In that progression, I forget all that I know, for originality can only be achieved by reaching into my infinite possibilities. The abstract mechanics of art are same as making music, where the musician by use of an instrument transcends the process of playing; a painter transcends the limitation of medium, thus creating work that can produce an emotional response. And when that happens, art completes life, bringing to focus what nature cannot bring to finish.
I use traditional methods of painting, oil, acrylic, pencils, sometimes collage, to capture moments of action that lead me to a place of visual harmony. I start with the canvas outside on the ground and work as I walk around it. I then stretch the canvas in my studio, then there is a long process of work and examination. The piece is complete when it reaches its own harmony.
My work is about creating a feeling of deep calm, soft stillness, expansive space and tranquility, a sense of equanimity, a secret to take rest. The process is one of transmuting paint into lyrical expressions of color and mood. I see color and composition as my primary modes of communication. My studio in Santa Fe looks out to the Sangre de Christo Mountains; recently I have been exploring the shapes of clouds in all of their many moods, bathed in rose reflected sunset light as well as the lavenders and deep blues of dusk I am interested in simplifying the landscape forms of ground plane, sky plane and horizon line to achieve a sense poetic abstraction.
Photographer, Jim Westphalen has always had an affinity for the built landscape; those features and patterns reflecting human occupation within the natural surroundings. His current body of work entitled, Vanish is an ongoing narrative that speaks to the decay of iconic structures in rural America. Inspired by such painters as A. Hale Johnson, Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper, Jim’s photographs open like windows to a world that is rapidly disappearing before our eyes. He captures his dynamic landscapes using a vintage 4x5 (film) view camera that has been adapted for digital capture. He then processes his imagery using proprietary methods that create a unique painterly feel. The effect is further enhanced by employing matte finish rag papers for the prints themselves. Largely self taught, Westphalen has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. His work is widely published and collected both nationally and abroad.