“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.”
– Dylan Thomas
Cherokee artist Brett Stokes shares an artistic philosophy with the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. In Thomas’ poem “The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower,” he explores the interconnection of all life. In Stokes’ current exploration of abstract painting, his goal is to express the interconnection of life in the natural world.
During the greater part of his artistic career Stokes has painted what he calls “objective” art. That is, art that is representational of a recognizable object. This is his first experience with what he terms non-objective or abstract art – paintings which are not as easily interpreted by the viewer. He thinks that most people feel the need to address a recognizable object and thus are not immediately drawn to the abstract form of expression.
Stokes comments on why he has decided to explore abstract art, “I wanted to express the most amount of content with the least amount of information.” He describes abstract art as existing “below the radar of consciousness.”
Brett Stokes began his adventure with abstract art after painting over one of his portraits of a young Indian girl. “I felt it was static,” he said. At that moment a “charged thought” raced through his head: “Paint like a fanatic – wild!” He further explained, “Photo-representational renderings are too slow; I can’t get an emotional release.”
Stokes said that he has “never been a huge fan of abstract” but mentioned that “there is a literacy that comes into play.” He said that understanding non-objective art is an interesting process – a sort of literacy with a language which needs to be understood. The viewer will be “looking for balance between light and dark, shapes and composition – that is the language.”
The artist shares some thoughts for those who view his works, “Abstract art exists below the radar of consciousness.” He also mentioned that it will take a lot longer for the person to view the piece. “I would encourage people to pay attention to their feelings and what the splatters and drips mean to them.”
A stunning landscape piece seems to be wavering on the edge of abstract. The trees are purple, the sky is purple and the ground is white. Does the white ground represent sand or snow or something else? Is the sky raining snow or ash – or are those white spots stars? He encourages each individual viewer to decide.
One large colorful painting definitely screams for attention. It is not a work of art that one can just walk by and ignore; it demands that its presence be acknowledged. The yellow bursts from the canvas along with violent splashes of red. Colors affect us all. We are each drawn to colors in unique ways through our spiritual being and subconscious mind. I believe that is one of abstract art’s clearest messages.
The piece that portrays the Mitten Buttes of Monument Valley is fascinating. A portion of the painting is objectional art, but below the recognizable landscape is where the abstract art comes alive. I feel that the shapes and bursts of color below the buttes represent how the various rock strata were formed millions of years ago. To another viewer it could represent something entirely different. Each individual brings his or her own perspective and life experiences to art; and if I interpret it in one manner and the next viewer sees something entirely different, I think that Brett Stokes has accomplished his artistic objectives.
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Nathalie, a multiple-award winning writer, holds a BA degree in English from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her areas of expertise include features, restaurant reviews and travel.