Peter Beckett

'I speak to you in dreams, not in the sober naked light of morning. "

Woods Worship
As a painter, his method is more intuitive than rational more emotional than conceptual. He believes in the possibility of pure painting as a complete language, independent of a need for symbolic or written references. A language to which viewers respond directly, discovering or experiencing the paintings as they might a natural event.
"There is often an underlying gesture or basic shape around which the painting has evolved. The colours seem to collide, hum, resonate and merge one into another: Beckett plays with the perceptual balance between the texture or the actual surface and the painting's illusion of space. The movement of the underlying forms, which we intuit, is given resonance by the lines, blobs and splashes of colour that seem to float above the surface. Our eyes move back and forth between the surface and the deeper constructed abstract dimemionality. "
- John K Grande
oI see nature with its fabulous structures and infinite complexity as a source of my sense of visual order. The paintings reflect something of nature's own diversity in their colour, shapes and textures. However, there is an attempt to create more than a visual record; to include such things as the smell of the woods or the sound of the rain.

PAINTING AS INVESTIGATION
One of my aims in painting is to learn something, to slide on the thin ice beyond what I understand consciously and to capture in the painting a fragment that will transport me back when I see the painting again. With time I come to know the painting. What was unconscious becomes more solid, more conscious, a stepping stone in one particular direction.
Following each painting as it evolves is like chasing knowledge, moving outward from the centre, first in one direction, then suddenly, in quite another. This non-methodical approach occasionally produces "orphans", paintings which apparently have no predecessors or direct descendants. When working into or over other colours before they dry, decisions can seldom be reversed. Proceeding without a map is precarious.
In contrast, to know what a piece of art should look like before it is made restricts its content to what the artist knows consciously. This means the learning process needs to have taken place beforehand, perhaps in another "language". I prefer the spontaneous, intuitive, precarious "non-methodical" process because whatever it was that stopped me, that proclaime the painting "finished", is there newborn for all to see. Translations and explanations are not needed. The painting is at once the investigation, the record and the expression.

CONJURING OF ENCHANTMENT
An unfortunate part of "growing up" involves suppressing that sense of wonder at the world around us. Perhaps one of the roles that artists play in society is to point out some of the things that they find fascinating. . . helping to renew our sense of wonder. . . to rejuvenate. . . to recognize what we see with our own eyes and not simply to see what we have been taught to see.
Art involves giving form to those aspects of living which are so fundamental and so common that they are no longer even seen, let alone wondered at.

DISCOVERY
Encountering a Painting from Different Perspectives
When I'm painting I normally look at a 5' x 8' canvas from a distance of about twenty feet. From that distance I've become used to seeing the painting as both a flat object, variously coloured and textured, as well as an illusion of space. . . . if not simultaneously, interchangeably at will. Standing within six feet of a painting on one occasion I had a surprising new perceptual experience. I suddenly found myself floating in the painting's illusionary space. A form in the lower right of the painting moved beneath me. I suspect this phenomenon depends on how much of one's peripheral vision is filled by the painting. The effect may be more striking at a close distance because of our inability to bring into focus our entire field of vision. Being so close to a large painting requires the eye to scan the painting rapidly. Could there be a connection between rapid eye movement stimulated in this way and the perceptual shift from one consciousness into another? Could the production of rapid eye movement facilitate entry into a dreamlike state?
Is it possible that as our perception shifts ftom one "reality" to another, we can catch, in the instant between realities, a fleeting glimpse of our own intuitive response to the work? Can we catch a glimpse of something the painter saw, something that made him stop at that particular moment of discovery?
With expressionistic abstract paintings the perceptual shift from flat surface to illusionary space may take a few moments and come as quite a surprise. After travelling around in the space that we've created, curious about how the illusion was constructed, we walk toward the painting. At a certain distance we are surprised again by another perceptual shift as our constructed space disappears and is replaced by an awareness of a surface, a textural surface. . . revealing the painter's touch and perhaps something of the sequence of events which produced the painting.
Archaeology
Painting can allow you to go inside yourself and pull out some artifact that may prove instructive. Recognizing what this artifact is or what it relates to may take considerable time. It may not necessarily stand by itself but as one more piece of the ever expanding puzzle.


TRANSITION: FROM SOURCE TO PROCESS Selected Diary Entries 1987- 1994
"Let me hear voices that respond to my questions. The solutions that others have come up with in response to their questions may fill the silence but are their solutions necessarily of value to me?" - 12/17/1987
"In painting, as in writing, the content can be presented in a series of layers which work inward from the obvious. As the first layer beneath the surface becomes apparent the reader/viewer is introduced to the possibility of further layers." - 01/03/1988
"When painting, if you let yourself be guided by intuition - everything you are, you've done, you've seen - guides you, rather than a single finite idea." - 03/15/1988
"I paint what I long for." - OS/28/1988
"Painting is no more linear than other forms of inquiry. If the question is worthy, it won't be solved. Such a question needs to be approached from as many different directions as possible. Because a solution is not attainable, the evolution of the question is the product of the inquiry." - 01/06/1988
"When I have an idea that comes to me in words, I write it down and quite often other ideas occur and connect themselves in rapid succession. The rapid succession of flashes occur in a dream-like state in which any attempt to grasp or record the ideas alters the state of mind sufficiently to interrupt the sequence. As when you wake up and watch the dream reality dissolve before your eyes."- 01/16/1988
Art is painting in pursuit of something and leaving the notebook open behind you. Painting which leaves its tracks uncovered allows the viewer access." - 04/04/1988
"If we were to question the validity of painting simply because "it has been done", perhaps we are not considering painting as a language. Would we consider putting an end to speaking and writing? These things too have been done. Is it not the content that should be evaluated?" - 04/30/1994
"If you wait to feel inspired before you begin painting, things will be lost. Inspiration is fueled by the process." - 10/05/1989


TIME AND SOLITUDE
"Painting at night in the winter uninterrupted by the external changes of colour - the progression of the sun across the sky - the spell is broken by the ultramarine predawn blue coming through the windows." - 10/05/1989
The pause - the momentary silence in which the new idea takes root is all too seldom offered. People who really have something to say often leave spaces when they speak as if to allow time for the idea to germinate in the listener's mind. There is a difference between communication and the presentation of information. When the music stops, who sits quietly and waits for the voices to reverberate? . . . if the composer had heard the voices of angels, where else would you find them? - 11/19/1990
I am content. I have every confidence that people yet unborn already know who I was. - 01/06/1988
Because I am human I am very old. Because I am human I am but a child. - 06/23/1988
For him the world had ceased to have such minute divisions of time as days of the week. Time was a large wheel and its progress was marked by the changing seasons and the size of other people's children. The other world's time was an infinitesimally small cog which, when meshed with the large wheel, was made to spin at a ridiculously high rate of speed. What use have the dead for minutes, seconds, weekends? - 12/02/1990
Tonight the moon is full and the snow is in those big spark1ing-sea-of-diamonds-crystalsnow flakes that make cross country skiing an experience too exquisite not to share. It's at times like this that I regret being alone. However, there is a lot of time in between and somehow I know that it's better to be alone than to wish I were alone... and there was one lone voice ftom beyond the abandoned pasture and the voice asked quietly three times, who. - 01/30/1991

While I was artist in residence at St. Johns College, Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1981-1984, a good friend suggested that I put together some words as a means of helping people approach my paintings. The following Artist statement, "Words " began as a result of his suggestion.

ARTIST'S STATEMENT - "WORDS"
The work before you is intended to communicate in painting's own language, the semantic elements of which are colour, shape and texture. This communication, although direct in its nature, is quite unlike the specific forms of communication to which we have become accustomed. In writing for example, the dictionary gives each and every element a specific meaning. The language of painting is more like the languages of music or dance, each of which allows the artist a range of possibilities to express something. It is my belief that having something to share with an audience is the first requirement of art.
When I begin a painting, without having first chosen to pursue specific thoughts or objects, the painting takes its direction from the subconscious. The subconscious draws upon memory and images from the collective unconscious, taking visual as well as nonvisual elements of experience, and records them in the language of painting. (It is like a page from a diary in paint rather than words.)
Although my visual vocabulary is part of my own experience - the places I've been, the people I've met - the content of each painting depends on how the elements of colour, shape and texture interact with one another within the painting. Finding the relationship between these visual elements is like reading between the lines of written language. As children, the understanding of this language is part of our nature, but through disuse and displacement by other languages, the understanding is gradually lost.