Since moving from New York city to the countryside in Hudson, artist Jason Middlebrook has found himself in a constant contact with nature. His striking “plank series” is informed by his surroundings; vividly painted abstract designs on natural pieces of cut wood like maple and birch, sourced from a local mill. Though his use of straight lines and angles, drawn with a geometric precision, may not be naturally occurring, they are inspired by the subtle nuances found in his materials.
Middlebrook first began painting the wood planks in 2008, and over the years has developed new ways of expressing these “collisions between the man-made and nature”, as he describes them. Newer works also incorporate motifs found in rocks such as geodes and a metallic palette with origins in natural pigments like gold and silver, painted in a variety of mediums like oil, acrylic and spray paint, mixed with glass, steel and other elements- “materials that have a history and that still have a future.”
“No matter what I paint on those planks, I have to take into account that the tree did so much more work than what I did. The tree lived for a hundred years, and it compressed all that time into the grain. Every time I do a plank painting, I’m trying to respect nature,” Middlebrook shares. “I think that’s what the planks are about, trying to draw attention to the tree, draw attention to the form, and then delicately make a statement with my hand. Because the tree is the narrative.” Middlebrook’s planks are currently on view at Gallery 16 in San Francisco, California through May 6th, 2016.