Teapot I 1993 30" x 24" oil on panel
The Surface Qualities of an Object
Chico Buttes I 1984 30" x 40" oil on canvas
“The universe is incredibly wondrous, incredibly beautiful, and it fills me with a sense that there is some underlying explanation that we have yet to fully understand.” Brian Greene
Brian Greeene was an American theoretical physicist, mathematician, and string theorist.
In this first section, we will be looking at the emanations of objects. Presently, our way of seeing deals mainly with the surface of forms—an object’s size, shape, color, and the material it is made of, as well as the effects of light and shadow on its surfaces. Most studies of vision begin and end here. On this level, objects are perceived in their most dense state and are usually thought of as no more than inert matter.
As we open to the experience of emanations, we start to enter a world of higher energy. There is no part of an object that is not emanating energy or a "note." You can see a visual equivalent of this in infrared photography where different frequencies of energy emanate from and extend beyond the edges of the form. What is this we are seeing? What is this we are feeling from objects? Emanations are life itself; they are consciousness.
One of my earliest pure experiences of emanations occurred in the early 1980s when I was out painting a landscape. I was depicting it realistically in detail. When the painting was done and I held it up I was very disappointed in the result. Yes, the forms were depicted true to the scene—the field, the rocks, the trees, and clouds, but as I looked at the painting it felt like my awareness ran into a “solid wall”—a solid wall of paint on canvas. Yet, the feeling was so different when I looked at the actual living landscape beyond. The forms there were more “porous” to my awareness—as if I could enter into them and feel their life. And the life in them extended out penetrating me. Not only were the forms in relationship with me but with each other in some kind of communication through this field of emanations. And this world of emanations was only but vaguely hinted at in my painting.
That afternoon I was determined to explore in paint better ways to capture this energetic field of emanations so I returned to my studio excited at the challenge. After much effort, trial, and error a couple of months later my first finished painting "Chico Buttes I" emerged.
The Emanations of an Object
The following three paintings of this Southwestern still life are done as a set. Here I was exploring how far I could go in expressing the emanations I was perceiving from the objects in the still life.
Western Still Life I 2015 14" x 18" oil on panel
Here the emanations are portrayed more subtly with the main emphasis being on surface qualities.
One of the main ways emanations can be expressed in painting is by manipulating the color of an object. For example, parts of a green apple can actually have the emanations of the energy of yellow, orange, or violet instead. One of the greatest masters in using modified color, shading, and brush stroke to portray the life and emanations of objects was Paul Cézanne.
Western Still Life-High Energy 2015
14" x 18" mixed media on canvas
Here in this painting, there is much less consideration for surface detail with the emphasis being on emanations. Though seemingly exaggerated, this is a very concise and accurate depiction of the sensations the emanations were creating within my awareness.
Western Still Life - Energetic Study 2015
6.5" x 8.5" mixed media on paper
In this painting, the emphasis is on the emanations of the objects as well as their energy essence with no consideration for surface detail. At this stage, unlike the above painting, "Western Still Life I." I spent more time looking and feeling than painting.
The following quote from Albert Einstein, receiver of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, who developed the theory of relativity, appears next to this piece in my traveling museum exhibit:
“What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
Emanations can be brought into focus through the act of giving them expression. A few years ago I was giving a child an art lesson out in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. I told the child, who also studied the violin, that before he began to paint, to feel the emanations coming from the rolling hills, the trees and the terraces of grape vines. I walked away for a few moments and when I returned I was surprised to see the child rocking back and forth as he looked at the landscape beyond. As I drew closer, I could hear him happily humming. When I asked him what he was doing, he responded quite enthusiastically, “I am playing the landscape.”
For this little boy, the emanations of the landscape became more alive as he played them on his imaginary violin.
Emanations - Log Bridges 2009
8" x 10" watercolor & crayon on paper
In the drawing I used line to express directly the sense of emanations. One’s interpretation of emanations, however, does not have to be as conspicuous as in this example and can actually be quite subtle.