Distant Direction is a group of four seascapes in oil, based on my mind’s picture when I think of my home, East Gloucester, Massachusetts. Together the panels create an almost cinematic experience, expanding and stretching the perspective of the landscape. The space between the paintings creates an opportunity for a mental break between the compositions, and also allows a narrative of temporal transition. The landscape does not represent a specific moment but instead the movement and shift of time within my memory of this location.
The paintings are from memory while working away from home. Distant Direction speaks to personal space within my mind, the recollections and illusion of a place. These remembrances are not perfect and constantly manipulated, just as the specific details of place are not revealed. For this reason, I use wet-into-wet oil painting technique, a process similar to my ideas of memory. I work quickly, within sections and multiple layers.
For the viewer, Distant Direction alludes to the idea of space that feels familiar; it is a location that many of us can appropriate within our own minds. I am inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s iconic Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. The mystery, curiosity and familiarity that his landscape brings to its viewers, is the same response I seek.
Having to return home mid-semester to the place that inspired my paintings, my home, I am paying attention to the colors, clouds, and fog that have always surrounded me. I am inspired to paint more. With this same fervor and intention, I paint the sky that surrounds me, this time on an old water tank in my basement. Together this work represents to me my home and my memories entwined.
Morgan Barlow, Distant Directions, Oil on Canvas, 16″ x 20″ (4), 2020.