When Jackson Pollock declared, now famously, “I am Nature!”, he must have thinking about his quest to reach a subconscious state, painting without inhibition or over-thinking.
I have unique insight into Pollock. After all, we have something in common, Jackson and I, something tangible and verifiable. As proof, here’s the story: it’s 1917 and five-year-old Jackson moves with his family to Chico, California, after his mother sees a magazine photo of the college town’s pretty, tree-lined streets. A shy boy, Pollock has trouble getting along with other children and discovers that living in nature (in this case, a fruit farm), gives him comfort. Fast forward to 1970. 18-year-old Karen Lindley (me) moves to Chico to get a degree and, exhorted by her parents, a nice, secure job at the phone company. In college she is aimless and wonders why she would ever make a career at boring old Pacific Bell. Looking for more excitement, she decides to change course and let nature take over. With their experiences in Chico being the common denominator, they both come to see nature as fundamental to happiness.
Pollock’s partnership with nature was key to his artistry. In his best-known works it’s as if he invited mother nature to dance a pas de deux, an exquisite performance of fury and physical control on a breathtaking scale. As they take turns in the spotlight, as pairs dancers often do, Pollock will come forward to paint nature. Then, with her reputation and artistic control on the line, nature will take the lead back and paint a Pollock.
I’m beginning to think that nature performs this dance all day, every day. Nature painting Pollock – these images are exciting to find and, fortunately, almost everywhere I look. Pollock speaks to me through these images. Our special connection continues.