John Knight

My current paintings depict common plants and their environments. They also describe a dialogue between the sky and the earth. As the plants send out flowers and shoots, growing higher, they become the go-between connecting the earth and sky, and the plants themselves intermingle with their surroundings. I have let these often small weeds become monumental in my paintings, running the whole vertical length of my canvases, uniting solid ground below with atmosphere above. I have encountered these plants in fields, beaches and on roadsides. On an aesthetic level, I notice the color and shape of radiating petals on a flower with a specific number and formation, but observing the whole plant closely and identifying it through books opens up other meanings relating to its use as food, medicine, or textile/building material. I welcome the diversity of tenacious weeds that grow without conscious planting or landscaping. Their surprises contrast with gridded plots of daffodils or tulips, and the vast, uniform orchards or crop fields that fill abundant but homogenous produce bins in supermarkets across the country.

In my studio, the forms of clouds, stones, plants, rolls of hay, or bodies of land and water are malleable and change to fit my compositions. However, the subjects and environments I create are always informed by my sense of the different places I have lived or spent time in. A tower of limestone blocks I saw in a quarry in Indiana became the subject of paintings done there. This relates to rocky cliffs I painted from in New Mexico. That in turn connects to the shape of the rocky Maine Coast, and connects me to all these places in a deeper way through both their similarities and their contrasts. The name and identity of the forms change, but certain shapes and compositions repeat through many of my paintings. In the studio, I work to generate the sense of scale I experienced standing with my easel planted in a large outdoor space with the ground sweeping up under my feet and clouds rushing overhead. I get back to experiences I have had walking out into certain outdoor spaces and being struck by a feeling of harmony in the forms surrounding me.