Painter Shain Bard loves the fall. “I’m caught up, once again, in the lovely excitement I always find in the first currents of fall air, the gentle passing of the baton of late-summer’s heavy green leaves into fall’s complementary reds, oranges, dusty pinks and lemon yellows,” she says. “Fall has always been my favorite time of year (and winter, too, with its always magical snow), so I’m particularly glad to have a painting on Dan’s cover at this time of year.”
How did your art career begin?
When I started painting “seriously,” majoring in art at Hunter/Lehman College for my BA and MFA, I was painting large, unusual still life objects which were popular in the contemporary art world then, like blown-up TV dinner trays, smoked whitefish in supermarket Styrofoam packages, things like that, and it wasn’t until I moved to Long Island that I started painting landscapes, I think because Long Island is simply one of the most beautiful places in the world and it’s where I see landscapes all around me everywhere I go.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
When I moved to Westbury, I started cruising around the North Shore mostly in Nassau County, and while I often don’t remember exactly where I’ve taken a picture for a painting, I do happen to remember exactly where I took the photo for this cover painting, “Early Fall Carscape.”
It’s across the street—25-A, Northern Boulevard—from the entrance to New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), where I was offered a one-person show in their Wisser Memorial Library some time ago, and I took many photos cruising around their campus. Those majestic trees, with their summer-splotched skin, lined up like royal guards heralding you down the street and, metaphorically, into fall. I also see them as nature’s cathedrals…I’ve always found my cathedrals in the woods. I also loved the late-afternoon light of deepening hues and values, light and shadow.
I don’t always, though, remember where exactly I’ve taken the photo for a painting, and it really doesn’t matter anyway. People often point to a landscape of mine and tell me they know that place. Then I know I have struck a
chord in them, and yet, while they are somehow familiar with the territory, they are also really “seeing” it for the first time. It is, of course, as much of an internal place, as well as external. Nature and art are within and without us, something close to what I would call “home.” It’s those moments when we most fully connect to our surroundings, those breath-held moments, that I’m interested in. I also see the idiosyncratic forms of nature as instruments in an orchestra, and light as the conductor. I feel like a conduit of that light as I create my compositions.
What do you think the significance of painting is for contemporary society?
I would say it’s what art has always been and always will be, a place of freedom to express our deepest feelings of being alive, apart from the dictates of whatever society is selling in the moment. There’s just so much that’s deeply troubling in the world today, and art is always there to transport us, or, in some cases, take us more deeply into expressing the truth of what’s going on, each of us in our own idiosyncratic and unique way.
To me, art is life itself, and each new painting is an adventure of discovering myself, and what’s truthful and beautiful, all over again. I can honestly say that most of my happiest moments, when I’m most alive, have been when I’m on a journey with paint. And I never know where it’s going to take me next, kind of like being lost in the woods, which to me is a good thing, because until you are lost, you cannot be found.
Bard teaches at the Art League of Long Island. She is represented by Gallery 67 in Northport and Roslyn Village Gallery in Roslyn. Contact Bard at [email protected].