THE PATH

Bill Santelli The PathThe drawings are made by hand on large sheets of Stonehenge paper, via a method that's pretty labor intensive: each takes about 2 to 3 months to complete, the result of building up around 4 or 5 layers of color and using up dozens of prismacolors pencils.  At a distance their surfaces appear unified, but go up close and you can see that they're really composed of many small marks that merge into a smooth, almost watery sheen like waves on the shore. I choose bold, primary colors for their power in provoking the sensations, firing up a more emotional response in the viewer. Some compositions evince deep space and are more "open" than others; some have paths that are partially blocked. Throughout, I always keep the point-of-view unusually low (and the horizon high) so that we seem to be in the grass—which, as you'll notice is never static but full of movement, change. I believe the Earth is, too. I've followed the teachings of Buddhism and Zen philosophy for many years, and have been deeply inspired by the notion that, to gain self knowledge, you've basically got to "clear away the brush." As your eye tries to move up and out of the frame, you may encounter a sun-like form on the horizon. Is it setting or rising? I leave that up to you.

Lots of photos were made (on beaches and marshes in Nova Scotia, Hamptons, cape cod) as studies, but to be honest, before I started I simply internalized the forms and commenced my work directly on the page. At this point, I find the repetitive (and arduous!) process in making them not a chore, but a joy—a meditation, if you will. Indeed, after completing two, an uncanny feeling overcame me. It put me in mind of another Buddhist teaching that states, "The moment you step on it, the entire path is realized at once; still with each step, you deepen your understanding." I probably won't tire of making these drawings, because they're a means to an end. Sure, as an artist, I want to make something nobody has ever seen before, but Nature is my greatest teacher here. I can only work with what it gives me, if I truly want to make new forms.

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