New paintings from this series will be exhibited at The Art Center in Corvallis, Oregon January 2022.

The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer — they think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer. – Kesey

I am learning how to be a mushroom hunter. A friend took me out a few years ago to hunt chanterelles. I had never found a chanterelle before and knew only a little about mushrooms in general. Then she pointed out how they grow out of the ground peeking through the moss and fir needles. The spot of orange. Suddenly I could see them everywhere.  Once you know what you are looking for they pop out. You almost don’t have to look. The world is a cacophony of visual information. And our brain only lets in the important things. My brother in law, a neuroscientist, calls this Neuro-Modulation Input. The Locus Coerulleus rewards our discovery with a bit of noradrenaline. When we find something important our brains marks it so we can find more.

When I first thought of Vessel I thought of what does the vessel contain? Soul? Consciousness? That is what I want to explore. That is always what I want to explore. I start creating the ground with layers of paint brushed and scraped. There are drawn marks made with brushes, chalk, charcoal, and pastel. The layering is sealed and re-layered until I achieve the luxurious chaotic surface. I begin identifying an idiomorphic shape that will be the subject of the piece. Often the figure is born and reabsorbed repeatedly into the ground further deepening the ground. The process continues until a final figure remains.

John Holdway 2021