There are moments when even the humblest of subjects transcend the ordinary to become something more, something precious, rarified, or even sublime. Maybe it’s the light, luminous and radiant and hinting at qualities beyond the merely physical. Sometimes the parts of the whole just seem to align like mythical planets and aspire to be greater than the sum of their parts. It’s often beyond reason or explanation, a mystery to be approached but not achieved. It’s the pursuit of these moments that gives a painting the power to elevate and inspire the perception of the viewer.
Some artists travel the globe seeking the wonders of the world for inspiration. I find the sublime in the everyday, transcendence from a car window. I find it in a glimpse of the sky dancing in the ripples of a canal on my drive to work. I see it in the silhouette of a tree passed while walking through my neighborhood. From the expression on a face at a bar to the perfect symmetry of a reflection, these moments surround and inspire me daily.
Many landscape painters choose to work on location, painting en plein air to attempt to capture these transient and fleeting moments. I find that I need some distance – both physically and emotionally – from the places I paint. I need time to reflect, to distill my memories and focus on the aspects that truly affect me. I need time to paint with a sense of longing. To this end, I paint from a combination of memory and imagination in the studio.
My subjects, though rooted in observed reality, are reinterpreted through time, memory, and imagination. They owe as much to my own interior perspective as they do to any particular place. I often work with a combination of several different digitally altered photographs along with my own sketches and observations to create dramatic compositions, always in pursuit of the mystery of the sublime. Through the continual painting, scraping away, re-painting, scumbling, scrubbing, and just playing with the brush, the canvas accrues a patina like surface rich with textures and layers of color. I strive to create paintings that are not just records of visual events but are events in and of themselves. There’s a history of my life to be read in the thick impasto of paint. I seek a balance between subtlety and bold juxtapositions, between the landscape as it is and the one I imagine. Painting for me is an act of investigation. I’m trying to learn something about myself, the world, and my place in it.
Mark Nesmith is an accomplished artist, musician, and teacher. He earned his B.F.A. in Studio Fine Art from Lamar University in 1998, and also studied art at the University of North Texas in Denton. His artwork has been exhibited throughout Texas, including shows in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Beaumont, and Denton, as well as in Oklahoma, and appears in several public and private collections throughout the United States and overseas. He taught art and music in the Dallas Independent School District and the Goose Creek CISD, and currently teaches art at Port Neches Middle School. As a musician Mark performed hundreds of shows around the country with the bands Hackberry Road and Lone Star Republic, and still performs regularly throughout SE Texas. He authors the blog Paint Daily Texas (http://paintdailytexas.blogspot.com), and is a member of the Artists of Texas and Contemporary Fine Artists International. Visit http://www.marknesmith.com to view more of his work.