This Sycamore is huge! It lies on a forest slope in Pittsburgh, PA. I painted this Sycamore as a commissioned gift. My good friend asked me to paint it for the people she bought her house from. They had an attachment to the tree and had said they would miss it.
Sycamores are massive yet smooth barked. The bark exfoliates as the tree grows and leaves a mottled, almost camouflaged look. The tree is well suited to grow in urban environments. As uncovered during 3 Rivers 2nd Nature, the tree is 1 of the 3 most prevalent trees along the 3 Rivers corridors in Allegheny County.
The tree is massive and smothered lovingly in it's forested surroundings. The sky in the background filters through the leaves and is ultimately the source of all the marks and colors. It is interesting to note that the source of light is coming from is the right hand side and nearly all of the branches on the Sycamore are reaching toward it. To call it self-referential would somewhat cheapen that concept. I am used to the idea that form can be drawn up out of it's relationship to light, but the record of growth indicated by the direction of the branches takes that into a temporal direction. The tree and the light are in a dialogue with each other. The light reflecting off the tree creates the form of the tree, which grows and is guided by the light.
I'm not sure if I am communicating this appropriately. But it is boggling my mind right now to recognize that this is all in paint.
The amount of detail in such a scene is too much to paint. If it were all painted I imagine it would look stale. I paint much how Hawthorne describes painting. Spots of color. You paint spots of color, from large to small and the painting has a way of forming itself. The way that unfolds feels surprisingly like the game go, as if the lights and darks in the image are in a dance of tension with one another.
Noel Hefele, Philadelphia Member Since January 2008 Artist Statement Through my painting, I investigate relationships.
Our personal experiences are inseparable from the physical and social environments we find ourselves in. Our actions unavoidably affect and shape our surroundings: there is a narrative of value in this. We have come to a point where these effects cannot be ignored. In urban places, invasive species, watershed and storm water issues, barren brownfields of post-industrial waste, as well as barren, cold, improperly considered inter-personal relationships, are all very real concerns of citizens caught up in the remnant realities of an industrial culture. Our relationships to each other, nature and society are ultimately shaped locally.
There is a dawning global conversation about our relationships amongst ourselves and our responsibilities to the natural world. As an artist and painter, I want to find ways to participate in that dialogue.
I learned how to work, study and practice art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since I left there, I have been looking for an artistic and academic community.
I investigate relationships through a practice of looking, caring, and painting. I believe that this can help weave visual narratives that clarify complex issues and contribute to the dialogues between people, culture, place and nature. I want to focus on the role of images in constructing shared values as related to the rapidly changing and paradoxical eco-social landscape. Can painting act as a catalyst to start conversations and develop and spread knowledge? In our dominant social context, how do I, as an artist, deal with ethical issues in my work? Can I develop a language of aesthetics that supports these ethical explorations? These are some of the questions I've been asking myself.