A R T I S T' S  S T A T E M E N T

May Flowers -  Azalea II

When her barefoot touched the cool, cleansing water, she transformed from a middle-aged woman into an earth goddess; then a charming countess, next a serious teacher, and finally a playful lost child. The variations were complex, and I immediately knew that she was a subject capable of generating several series of paintings.

As her foot slid toward the water's rippled edge, I simultaneously thought of Erich Fishcl's mysterious and alluring painting, The Secret Life of Pigeons. As the possibility of a series occurred to me, her long abundant auburn hair reminded me of Claude Monet's, Haystack Series. Sometimes, I saw the regal poses of Peter Paul Rubens', Maria de Medici Cycle , and other times the noble peasant of Andrew Wyeth's, Helga Series . Within seconds, several of the visual concerns for the series were resolved - the exploration of the shifting aspects of time and location on the model combined with the variety of moods, personalities, and masquerades presented by the model.

May Flowers - Wisteria

Pearl: Transformation is a series of paintings and drawings. Originally conceived as a two or three-year project, it has lasted for five years, and has evolved into an open-ended proposition. The goal is the exploration of the human experience through the painted images of a fictitious character named Pearl. Each location is designed to build familiar associations with the viewer, and each painting adds new dimensions with a variety of possible responses to the site.

Because of the various locations, the mutability of the model, and my changing nature, one of the original intentions was exhibiting the various styles and techniques together, exploring a post-modern multiple vision. I knew that each painting must be contained unit, independent of the series; and yet, they must relate to each other. For the viewer, the model as motif links the chain together; for me, the sequence becomes the continuity. The combined influences are constantly converging in new combinations that are both traditional and contemporary. Many of the original painting have been reevaluated and repainted, sometimes over and over again. The impulse for the reworking is sometimes experimental, and sometimes to relate various works to each other. Unfortunately, while these reworked paintings are both the summation the past and the promise of the new; the process destroys the original impulse. A new goal emerges, with hindsight, of preserving or documenting the original paintings and making new works that express the evolving insights. After years of backing up and repainting, weaving together the old ideas and the new, I realized that my transformation was also the subject of the group and would be better revealed if the paintings reflected their order.


For me, the act of painting is also a transformative act. While making decisions, organizing ideas and considering options, I find my world changes. The internal dialogue between the canvas and me results in new conclusions, interests, and opinions. These are among the magical moments that satisfy and reward me as an artist. It is possible for a single painting to remake an artist's vision; however, it is even more probable that the intense exploration of a series will intensify that conversion.

Ray M. Hershberger 2004