Kevin Veara is fascinated with the density of life in the natural world. There is an elemental aspect to nature that recalls the primordial soup from which all life springs. Nature teams with abundance and beauty, but there is fierceness as well: eat or be eaten. Veara captures these intertwining images in his new paintings Miasma #37 (above) and Miasma #38 (below), acrylic on wood panel.
His paintings focus on birds and plants of the Sangamon River Valley, near Springfield, Illionois, that are found in the steep, forested banks and flood plains of the Sangamon River. His array of avian life, native and migratory, are often pictured as encircled by menacingly sharp-leaved plants that remind us of human complicity in climate change, habit fragmentation, invasive species and genetic modification. “I create omnivorous plants to represent the environment,” Veara said.
Veara’s studio is surrounded by forest that is home to myriad species of birds, many of which he can see at feeders outside his studio windows. “Out here in the country my observations of birds have solidified my ideas about natural time – a calendar based on the arrival and departure of birds, such as the Juncos that arrive in the fall from the arctic for the ‘warm winter’ and return to the arctic in the spring,” Veara said. This part of the Sangamon Valley is as far south as they come. Birds use the area to breed. And Veara has always had a great liking for birds, as he sees them as a barometer of the quality of the enviroment.
Their populations rise and fall in response to the quality of the environment. Being in the forst makes Veara more aware of his surroundings. “The house puts me in the middle of it, this process,” Veara said. He has drawn several hours each day for the past 18 years. His paintings begin with drawings on tracing paper which are transferred to a gesso prepared, wooden panel. The boards he paints on are thick and project the final, painted image out from the wall, giving each a distinct solidness and particular space.
To view other paintings by Kevin Veara, visit his artist page on the gallery website.