- by Kelly Skeen
- February 24th, 2015
Whether you’re climbing mountains in Northern New Mexico or strolling down a nature trail, we’ve all come across those serene areas that invite you to stop, rest, and enjoy the natural world around you. It could be a beautiful waterfall, a trickling stream, or just a sunny clearing that gives you that calm and peaceful feeling in a busy and hectic world.
These intimate spaces are the inspiration for California artist Tony Griffith’s abstract acrylic paintings.
“There are so many distractions in our society,” says Griffith. “I hope that when looking at my work, the viewer can clear their mind and experience that inner peace for a moment.”
Griffith’s Buddha Creek series reflects a specific area along a trail in the San Jacinto Mountains above Idyllwild, California, a place Griffith called home for ten years before his move to Palm Desert. A clearing with a mountain spring flowing into small pools and waterfalls is one of Griffith’s favorite places to stop, relax, and meditate before continuing on his hike. Buddha Creek #23 is an abstract representation of this familiar resting place and the peaceful emotions associated with it. Griffith explains the symbolism in his narrative of the composition:
The abstract landscape-oriented composition of the work combines the vast mountain vistas (the background), and the granite boulders and outcroppings that define the immediate intimate spaces (the foreground). The southwest-inspired colors are fueled by mood, lighting, time of day, scenic orientation, energy and peacefulness of the Zen-like experience of each visit. Space and texture co-exist on the same picture plane inviting the viewer to transcend through solid rock, a metaphor for our journey across life’s obstacles.
Griffith’s spiritual approach to his art along with his inspiration from nature gives his work an organic vibrancy, which is also in part due to the resin finish on his panels. As the resin cures, it brings out the vivid colors and uneven textures from the layers underneath, as if the viewer is looking at the piece through water. Griffith compares it to pebbles in a stream – they appear brighter and closer when underwater. The resin finish conforms to the texture underneath, and like water, often creates pits and ripples that change with the light as you move around the piece.
With a background in computer science and a career as an IT professional, Griffith started pursuing art full-time when he was 40 years old. Growing up in a family of artists exposed
him to a creative environment at a young age, and this artistic influence stayed with him throughout his life. As a young adult, Griffith surrounded himself with artists and art educators who gave him an informal education in art history and studio art. While you wouldn’t expect a technological background to be compatible with fine art, Griffith’s computer and coding experience proved to be a creative process he could easily transform into art, and he has enjoyed a successful second career selling his work in galleries across the southwest.
Griffith’s 2015 show at Pippin Contemporary will run from October 14th to October 27th, with an opening reception on Friday October 16th. “Passages” will be a new body of resin work that represents the spiritual awakening or epiphany required to overcome life’s challenges.
View more of Griffith’s southwest-inspired pieces on his artist page of our website.