DOORWAY TO THE WEST by Michael Whelan (2006)
Acrylic on Panel - 12” x 9”
Another search for the light. Creating the illusion of texture in paint, the process of actually painting it, can be an act of meditation. If it were not so, the painting of all those rocks would be torture, especially for someone like me with an impatient nature.
WARMING HER WINGS by Michael Whelan (2012)
Acrylic on Panel - 11” x 14”
In fall, the sun sets on the west side of our property to shine through the trees. On a humid day, the light seems suspended in the thick air, spreading against the dark shapes of the trees, fanning golden brilliance across the green lawn.
I saw my daughter Alexa a few times when she was between the ages of 5 and 10, standing in the glow as if spotlit on a stage, and each time I would tell myself, “Remember this, this is a gorgeous moment you don’t want to ever forget.”
Years later while traveling in the UK, we were hiking near Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower coast in Wales. Evening was drawing near. As the sun approached the horizon, warm light illuminated the ruined walls of Pennard Castle. As we passed by there, I noticed a beam of light falling through a doorway and recalled the memory of Alexa in the light at home. Same sun, same light, same Alexa.
When I decided to produce another painting for my Portals series, these memories became my main inspiration. The butterfly, a symbol of life’s fleeting vicissitudes, reminds us to stop and enjoy our time in the sun.
KAIROS (2007) by Michael WhelanAcrylics - 24” x 36”
I didn’t want to just call this PRUDENCE 3, so I looked all over for a word that captured the idea of the painting and KAIROS is the only one that fit. The ancient Greeks had 2 words for ‘time:’ ‘chronos’ referring to chronological or sequential time and ‘kairos’ meaning a more undetermined period in which something special happens.
The leaf comes from a Gingko, an ancient tree which has survived from prehistoric times. I often use Ammonite fossils as symbols of extinction, or a gentle reminder of the vast span of time, and sometimes a memento mori on a global scale. The woman in my picture is choosing to contemplate survival, so I guess you could label this painting as a ‘Memento vivendi’, if you want to put in a snooty art term label to describe it.
It’s a positive statement, but conditionally so. The choice is there for each of us. Let’s hope we choose to move forward and realize the potential for good that lies within us. The painting is about humanity at a vastly important turning point, and whether we go the way of the Gingko [still around thru many mass extinction events] or the ammonite [didn’t make it] is an open question.
EROSION (1999) by Michael Whelan - Acrylic on Panel - 32” x 40”
The fourth of my End of Nature paintings. The figure is stranded on a pillar of human folly, looking up to a symbol of technology (the lamppost) for her deliverance from the perils signaled by the oncoming storm. Will Science light the way to the future?