Alastair Dacey — New Works
What were the main intentions you brought to creating this series of paintings?
I toyed around with titling this series 'Light and Color', which perhaps tells you something of where I’m coming from. I enter paintings and art in general through the eye of a particular needle- that is, the experience of values, colors, shapes, lines and form. That’s where a painting starts and in many ways where it ends up. I don’t psychologize or stay tuned for some visceral inkling, I open my eyes and make a huge assumption: that if I see truly and perceptively what the visual world has to offer, all the complexity and meaning will reveal and layer itself compellingly. I’ve learned that this is a very reasonable assumption to make.
So I began these paintings rather whimsically and as work continues I’ve seen themes and ideas emerge. But my clearest intention was to see and interpret nature –in this case the sun, rocks, water and the figure and expression of my model– with a refreshing honesty and imagination. I want the viewer to know the time of day, have seen that light and gesture before and be surprised at the colors and paint used to achieve the deception.
What was the process of creating them like? Similar or different from previous studies you have done?
The process was both very similar and totally different. Similar in that the questions I was asking visually were familiar, but different because the subject was fresh and the answers to questions of composition, palette and application were new to me. A good example is to look at a passage in ‘Emma’ (pictured on right), especially the rocks. If I had tried to compose, drawing around the rocks or understanding them as objects I would have composed them differently and wouldn’t have chased the surprising array of colors, hues and temperatures. By making the look of light —whether popping or diffuse—the priority, I could turn my first and full attention to color/value relations, which in turn informed my palette and each brush stroke.
It’s interesting to me that these paintings are in some ways quite reckless in how they chase color, but they were also very clearly planned out. I began each piece with a charcoal drawing on the canvas, mapping out the design. Once I knew I had a pattern that would work, I attacked it with the paint and color.
Ogunquit has a rich history as a destination for realist painters- has this informed your approach in any way? Is there anything in particular you feel draws artists to this area?
Ogunquit does have a history of fine painters and teachers. I can only imagine they all loved the obvious beauty and community of the place. Many of the paintings in the show began in conjunction with a workshop I taught last summer on the grounds of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. The teaching, art colony tradition is something many folks are aware and supportive of, and the museum was kind enough to let us take over their garden and coastline for three days. That openness and support is unique and I think directly related to the history of the arts in the area. It certainly helped and informed my working in an extraordinary setting.
What do you aspire for your viewers to take away from this exhibition?
Keep it light. Literally. I would like people to leave the show as one leaving a bountiful feast; fat and happy. There is a richness and surprise to nature that can get overlooked when artistic ambitions and habits of process hold sway. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, to enter a painting through it’s purely visual aspects is what I’ve tried to do. I hope viewers see and enjoy nature through my work, and perhaps see the visual world and light a little differently when they leave.