Steven Carpenter, st. petersburg, fl Member Since January 2008 Artist Statement I paint to document my inner landscape, to understand myself and to connect with people. I find life beautiful, mysterious, infinitely deep and full of possibilities. I am also fascinated with what lives in the dark corners of our hearts and minds. I feel there are things that secretly pull our strings and cause us to create dysfunction. These things thrive in the dark, feeding off of fear and inattention. When I am poking around in these dark areas, feelings and ideas come to me. And soon after that, images come. I paint because it allows me to document and explore these dark corners. These ideas and feelings are filled with an energy that compels me to capture them in paintings. But they are slippery and elusive. They don't have a form for the mind to grab hold of...painting gives them this form. Painting brings these things into a concrete reality that the mind can grapple with while still preserving life's boundless nature. A painting can give intangible things a definite form without defining away the immense scale and interconnectedness of everything. Painting enables me to share all these things in a free, unbounded form. Painting also allows me to connect with others in meaningful, rewarding ways.
For me, a painting begins with the spark of an idea. A visual idea, or the feeling of one, comes to me and intersects with an emotion. After this initial spark, I leave room for the idea to develop, evolve and multiply. The ideas meld with themes I have found in those dark corners. In this stage, I get out of the way and let the ideas develop on their own. Letting go is essential. It allows the painting to root itself in bigger truths. It gives the painting a broader base to connect with others. Then I begin physically creating the piece. The feelings I am expressing take precedence over everything else. Colors, textures, line work, brush strokes and details serve first to support and elaborate on these feelings, and then to create visual beauty and excitement. If there is a conflict, the visual is usually sacrificed. While this can be initially frustrating, I have found that problems are actually opportunities. Much of my artistic growth has come while searching for ways to overcome these problems. I know I'm on the right track when parallels, connections, symbols and meanings develop and expand in ways that I didn't consciously plan out. The details take care of themselves. In my best work, all the elements come together easily and synergistically.
In my most recent work, I am examining the nature of pain and how beauty inspires us to transcend it. I am examining how it affects us, how it causes us to hurt ourselves and others and how it causes us to make the choices we do. I am exploring how pain cycles through generations and how some find the strength to pull themselves out of these cycles. I am also depicting the inner state of beauty, love, stillness and peace that once found, allows us to move beyond our current struggles. The inspiration for my work comes from my own experiences with pain. Pain took me to the edge of life itself and eventually brought me to a better place with a new understanding. I saw and felt things at that edge that continue to inspire me. I am also compelled to document my journey out of that darkness.
When people see my work, I want them to have more than just a cerebral, visual experience. I want them to feel something that piques their curiosity and incites them to explore their own inner landscapes. I encourage my viewers to try to better understand the people in their lives, to be more mindful of how we treat each other, and to grow with conscious intent over the direction of that growth. I recognize the power of art to touch people deeply, to transform pain into beauty and to inspire change. These are my goals.