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Nature, in its various manifestations, has always provided the raw material for my artistic investigations. Over the years I have explored a variety of styles and media - always with the natural environment as the focal point. As I have matured personally, my artistic sensibilities have similarly matured and evolved into an ever-deepening realization of my own private vision.

I believe that a kind of transcendental essence lies at the heart of all natural forms and objects. There is a concept in Zen Buddhist painting known as kiin-seido, meaning “living moment” or the immediate, intuitive expression of a subject’s essential nature. While I am not a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, I am interested in this concept as it relates to our experience of landscape. My artistic goal is, through the process of painting, to distill and crystallize that essence and the vital rhythms that animate it.

My method is to paint directly from the natural environment. This allows me to study my subject in its rawest incarnation and to better perceive and record the particular idiosyncrasies and beauty of the natural form. The unique qualities afforded by paint furthers the process of interpretation that hopefully brings about the necessary metamorphosis revealing the inner spirit of the subject. As a plein air landscape painter, I search for compositional arrangements that lend themselves to narrative possibilities. I am especially interested in the pantheistic quality of high altitude vistas juxtaposed to the intimate microcosm of the flora and fauna. These explorations of spatial extremes, for me, refer to the relationship between “world” and “self.” By probing beneath surface appearances, I try to reveal a nature that relates to bodily and psychological states of being.

Phyllis Shafer

El Capitan