Luke Allsbrook
A Sense of Place
Paintings by Luke Allsbrook
June 7-July 21
Reception: Thursday, June 7, 7-9
Coffee and Conversation: Saturday, June 17,11-12
"Mellissa's Beach"
12x28 inches, oil on panel, 2018
"Morning on Mellissa's Beach"
12x28 inches, oil on panel, 2018
"Dock at High Tide"
32x24 inches, oil on panel, 2018
"Distant Ocean Sunset"
20x36 inches, oil on panel, 2018
"Snowy Morning Windowsill"
48x24 inches, oil on panel, 2017
"A Multitude of Lights"
44x37 inches, oil on panel, 2015
28x48 inches, oil on panel, 2014
"April Field with Yellow Flowers"
13x34 inches, oil on panel, 2018
"Grandfather Road"
32x62 inches, oil on canvas, 2018
"Midday on the French Broad"
31x74 inches, oil on canvas, 2015
"End of Winter"
30x83 inches, oil on canvas, 2017
"Night Fishing"
78x54 inches, oil on canvas, 2018
"A Pathway in the Woods- Study"
24x32 inches, oil on panel, 2017
"Tree in the Woods"
24x32 inches, oil on panel, 2017
Artist Statement:

As a human it’s my sad tendency to think that the
world is about “me.” But occasionally, I have had
the experience which I’m sure you’ve had, when a
special person or an extraordinary event breaks
into the narrow enclosure of the self, and life flows
in. I believe this is what happens when a beautiful
picture is created. Somehow, the artist is given the
gift of dis-interested love for something outside
him or herself, and the necessary skill to capture
and express that thing with paint. But every artist
is tempted away from this self-forgetful enjoyment,
motivated by a desire to cultivate a popular style,
or flaunt a spectacular proficiency.

How do I get to that place of true inspiration? I can’
t make it happen, any more than I can make a
great friendship happen, and in both cases, my
efforts to force the result may be counter-
productive. Inspiration is a thing that happens to
me—it’s a gift. But what is my part? A great
painting certainly won’t materialize unless I stretch
the canvas, mix the palette, and take a look
around me. I must set the table for the angelic
guest. There is nothing inspiring about this stage
of the process. My latest exhibition has been taken
down. My studio is empty. Perhaps there are bills
to be paid. Ahead of me are uncertainty and
discouragement, tedium and work.

Another Monday morning starts. I load up the car
and drive along back roads and parks, sometimes
stopping to ask permission to look around. Most
people are helpful; one man frowns and shakes his
head. At these times, I’m reminded of Tolkien’s
The Hobbit. Thorin sends out two younger dwarves
in the mountains to look for a place to shelter from
a storm: “There is nothing like looking, if you want
to find something. You certainly usually find
something, if you look, but it is not always quite
the something you were after.” The place I
eventually find to paint is usually not what I
planned on finding. Similar to the very process of
painting a picture, I have to relinquish my demand
on the outcome and reject the voices that whisper
to me what I “ought” to be painting. Artwork may
involve incredible precision and care but it does
not respond well to over-control. E. M. Forster said
creating art is like trying to catch a winged horse.

I am looking for a place that does something inside
me, something I know for sure when it happens.
Finally, I pull onto a dirt road and dust kicks up
behind the car. Everything feels old. There is a
white clapboard farmhouse with a screened-in
porch. The shade of the long porch, the shade of
an elm tree, and the shade of a sheltering vine
have all become one thing, part of the land. I
round a turn and my heart starts to thump. It’s like
reading the first few pages of a great book. I get
out of the car and start to walk. The oak trees must
be over a hundred and fifty years old. They line
the side of the road like living columns. There is a
breath of cool air, and through the flitting leaves,
like a patchwork quilt, I see the crisp shapes of the
mountains. Everywhere I look I see a painting. It’s
like those paintings are already finished. I just
have to do the work. For the next year, I will come
here and paint, hour after hour, sweating in the sun
or chilled by biting wind. I will know this place so
well that it will become a part of me. I will see a
hawk kill a squirrel in one of the oak trees. I will
stand ankle deep in the river, straining my eyes to
see the patterns of color that let my brain know
that I am looking at clear rippling water. There will
be some dead ends. “That didn’t work. Okay, try
this. That didn’t work. Okay, try this.”

I want the beauty of the things I see to drive the
paintings forward. And that’s why I feel it’s a
distraction from the real purpose of painting to be
concerned about my own “style.” Flannery O’
Conner said that great art should be based on
observed facts “that make actual the mystery of
our position on Earth.” The undulating lights on a
sandy river bottom can move me so deeply that
they speak to that mystery. They whisper to me
that I don’t inhabit a meaningless universe, that
there is a spiritual reality above and beyond the
facts of the material world. Consider the endless
variety of paintings in an art museum. An artist
might paint an apple, a battle scene, or the
graceful curve of a neck. The work might be
loosely painted or rendered with endless detail.
What is the common thread? Somehow the artist
has made loving contact with the Truth out there,
in reality. The artist has forgotten himself in the
revelation of that thing. C.S. Lewis said: “But there
must be a real giving up of the self. You must
throw it away "blindly" so to speak…Even in
Literature and Art, no man who ever bothers about
originality will ever be original: whereas if you
simply try to tell the truth (without caring two-pence
how often it has been told before) you will, nine
times out of ten, become original without ever
having noticed it. The principle runs through all life
from top to bottom. Give up yourself and you will
find your true self. Lose your life and you will save