Cat Walking 猫走                                                            2009

This body of work has evolved from the synthesis of two major influences in my life: the creation of art and the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.  In the study of these two disciplines, I’ve attempted to examine a shared concept of dynamic energy, balanced with patience and intent.

In T’ai Chi, it is ideal to employ a practice of focused, controlled energy; of softness and strength; of stillness and movement, powerful yet serene.  Energy, that which is defined as a vital, internal force, is elemental in the practice of T’ai Chi and in the creation of art.  Abstractly, one could say art is the visual manifestation of internal energies.  My intention is not to present a sheer release of energy, but to develop it in a way consistent with the principles of T’ai Chi.

In the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, it is said that one should “step like a cat walking.”  The disciplined patience executed in the feline act of stalking demonstrates a consummate example of reserved, controlled, continuous energy, defining a near perfect state of movement and stillness.  It is sometimes referred to as an “exquisite state”-- where movement and stillness become as one.

It is the dynamic between the opposites that I find intriguing.  I would suggest that serenity can be attained with energy and, alternately, that an energetic result may be achieved through the meditative process of serenity.  These paintings are developed with meticulous layers of encaustic and oil paint, scraping, collage and the application of fine lines.  As a cat steps deliberately, these linear marks, though random in nature and sparked by intuition, are deliberate and chosen.  Some are drawn into the surface, some are applied with encaustic paint using a writing tool heated by the flame of a candle.  This mesmerizing, meditative process lends itself to creating simple, gestural marks.  Yet it is these simple lines that give these paintings their energy.

As a painter whose primary medium is encaustic, I would like to believe that the paint itself manifests the inherent energy of its creation.  It is poetic to think that the activity of bees as they produce the wax necessary for this medium, is somehow transmitted and never taken for granted.

The creation of art and the practice of T’ai Chi provide direction for a lifelong journey toward a greater understanding and commitment to the ideal of an exquisite state. 

I would not presume to suggest that these works exemplify this.  It is my hope that I may begin to express this concept in my work.

Susan J. Thompson

(in loving memory of my friend and muse)


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