About “The Landscape Illuminated”

Robert Lewis

One of the regrettable things about life is that one tends to be pigeon-holed.

It isn’t just others that pigeon-hole you, it is your own doing as well. We tend to be defined and to define ourselves in terms of what we do. Yet each of us knows that when someone asks “What do you do?” they mean what is your occupation, your work. When someone asks me this, I get a panicky feeling, a sort of dread, that I must answer carefully and quickly or they will file me away with a convenient label. That feeling arises because, of course, we all do many things and we only occupy ourselves at some things. Our work, quite often, is not who we are or how we define ourselves, and so to answer this unfair question with a word or two is to leave out so very, very much. You want to say “Well, I do such and such, but, believe me, I am so much more than that!”

So…I am an artist. I’ve gotten used to saying that, to defining myself in that way, pigeon-holing my own existence into a single word. I think the idea of being an artist, specifically an oil painter, was very seductive to me when I was a teen. The smell of the turpentine, the thoughts of nude models, the sound of classical music playing as I painted, the joy of working for no one, all of these congealed together to make a vision that I could not resist and have never been able to resist.

Artist?! Living has made me far more than the artist in that narrow dream that I lusted after as a teenaged boy. Let me show you my stacks of poetry and stories I have written. Take a look at my scrapbooks from the years I spent in theater, on stage and backstage. See how I have raised children, learned to cook exotic foods, sculpted out of wood, built structures, etched glass, illustrated children’s books, learned to dance, struggled to sing and compose, and written essays of memories and strong feelings. And so much more.

So, The Landscape Illuminated began as a blog on painting, plein air painting, but time has shown me that I need to stop pigeon-holing myself. I have more to say about my experiences, more than fits into the narrow category of “artist”. As time goes on, The Landscape Illuminated may illuminate not only the landscape of painting but that interior landscape where dreams, thoughts, and memories mingle and try to make sense of themselves. So, with that in mind, please start here.

(You can view my paintings here.)

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