The Horizon pieces are an ongoing series of landscapes with the horizon line as focal point. My inspiration continues to be the land and light of the California coast. They have allowed me to play the specific horizon line against the generalized field of view - creating a kind of dance on the canvas where the only stable element is that fixed line denoting the junction of earth and sky.

This series began during an extended sailing trip down the coast of California to Mexico from 1992 to 1994. The one consistent feature of the ocean vista is the horizon. It becomes the focal point of daily existence. We look to the horizon to see how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. The horizon line became a metaphor for life on a broader scale. One of the definitions of horizon has to do with a threshold of experience. My experience made me keenly aware that our entire reality is defined by the boundaries of our personal perception and unique experiences.

I work the paintings to suggest a landscape that has infinite possibilities - all the technical and structural aspects of the paintings work together to create a foreground rolling back to a luminous horizon line. The initial impact of the paintings often suggests a real place - yet the features become shapes and line abstracted beyond any real depiction. These are composites of remembered places and creations of my imagination informed by memory. Embracing this process I have come closer to recreating the experience of place including the less tangible aspects such as warmth or light. I work without a fixed perspective so the viewer is just slightly unsettled - forced to shift perspective points while viewing the canvas allowing for an altered experience of the paintings and the actual landscape itself. As I have continued with this series the works have become increasingly abstract - freeing themselves even further from particular references.

The works on paper are acrylic studies for larger oil on canvas paintings. I often use a handmade paper for its organic and tactile qualities. Acrylic allows me to work quickly and not be caught up in the technical aspects. It encourages me to respond without great deliberation and to stay in touch with the gestalt of the piece as I layer washes over existing color to enrich tonalities and redefine spatial relationships. While they are complete unto themselves they form part of a more extended dialogue which I pursue until I am pushed out of them and into the larger oil paintings. I will do just a few or up to a dozen or more in preparation for a series of larger oil on canvas works. I find this process requires a shift in discipline and in scale, which allows me an endless variety of ways to capture the essence of landscape - that continued source of inspiration and refurbishment.


Barbara Rainforth