The Disaster Series Part 2

Art has always been a part of my life. I've been drawing since the age of two and today, wherever I am, or whatever I'm doing, I will often stop and draw. As a child, while making pictures of trucks and airplanes, I would line up my crayons each time in the same particular order. This organizational process would play a role in my artwork many years later. A little later in childhood I was creating detailed maps of imaginary places, and putting together all kinds of books, paying particular attention to logo design and layout. Later, my artistic interest was comic books and their bold visual storytelling. I went on to study painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Franklin Pierce College and Mount Wachusett Community College.

My early paintings were Impressionist, focused mainly on still life and landscape, and doing a lot of "plein-air" painting in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. From there I started pursuing Expressionism, mostly figurative. Some of these pieces were of religious imagery, others depicted friends, while some documented odd scenes I came across in my travels. Throughout these periods, I became most interested in the formal aspects of painting. I became convinced that color, line, texture and shape, above subject matter, were the most important elements of my approach to painting, and that they were capable of communicating the thoughts, feelings and reactions I had to the world.

In 1994, I began a new direction in which I pared down the visual elements so that color and texture became the subject matter. In the beginning of this approach I remembered how I had lined up those crayons and realized that each color had a numeric notation in my sub-conscious in relation to its position in the row. Intuitively, with this love of numbers and order, I coupled that concept with strict geometric arrangements and did a series of paintings "depicting" number sequences. These Minimalist abstractions occupied my work over the next few years, and allowed me to fully explore and develop my use of color and texture.

Eventually, I employed this Minimalist approach to again depict scenes I came across, but focusing on the abstracted colors and shapes that I saw. I began to refer to this style as "Organic Geometry." Then, about three years ago, I started the "Disaster" series. I had come across many images from the newswires where scenes of chaos included the most unusual juxtapositions of color and shape, but unexpectedly also included visual patterns whose sense of order served as a counterpoint. In Part Two of the Disaster Series, I have turned toward Expressionism once more, allowing the abstraction to be more lyrical and painterly, while still retaining a geometric underpinning. These pictures are a study in dichotomy. I create them through a balance of the analytical versus the visceral, through boldness versus subtlety. They seek, through the sub-conscious, and through the pictures' formal elements, to depict and unite opposing sensibilities: scenes of horrible devastation, wherein there is hope, survival, kindness, caring and love.

Dug Morton,
2009