Symbolic Landscapes

Paintings of the I Ching

In January 2012, I started a series of “Symbolic Landscapes” inspired by the I Ching or Book of Changes. I throw three coins six times to create a new hexagram for each painting. Then I contemplate the resulting answer and search for an image in my mind, incorporating chance even into the procedure. When they are all finished, they will be placed in numerical order, but now they are painted as they happen to come up.

The paintings are 20” square, oil on cradled birch panels. As my work has always referenced the landscape of northern New England, this series continues that exploration, but with an interior dimension of symbols and geometric juxtapositions.

The I Ching is an ancient divination system and the oldest of the Chinese classics. It has a history of more than two and a half thousand years of commentary and interpretation. From 1000 BC until 200 BC it was transformed into a cosmological text with philosophical commentaries. It is read throughout the world, providing inspiration to the worlds of religion, psychoanalysis, business, literature and art.

There is the suggestion for right action for each situation. This allows the individual to share in shaping his or her fate, making it possible to become independent of the tyranny of events. As long as events are in their beginnings they can be controlled.

It is also a book of wisdom. One who knows the meaning of change knows the immutable, eternal law at work in all change, the principle of the one in the many. Thus change is perceived as the continuous transformation of the one force into the other and as a cycle of connected phenomena subject to the universal law, Tao. Every event in the visible world is the effect of an image, an idea in the unseen world. In discerning the seeds of things to come, we can foresee the future as well as to understand the past.