Finding The Way Artist statements by Joel Fletcher

Paleolithic Pareidolia

Painting of a rocky landscape with boulders that appear to have faces, overlooked by a stone age woman.
Paleolithic, 2016, acrylic on canvas panel, 24 x 18 inches.

The theme of this painting is obviously rocks, more specifically, the Stone Age with a dose of pareidolia thrown in. For those unfamiliar with the peculiar word pareidolia, it refers to the human tendency to perceive recognizable images in objects, especially faces. This piece was inspired by a location in the iconic Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, which I discovered while hiking in the area. The site had some rocks and boulders that definitely reminded me of faces, although I exaggerated them in my artwork for effect.

The Wide and Narrow Gates

The gate to death and the gate to life from Matthew 24:13-14.
Two Roads, 1980, acrylic on canvas panel, 31 x 20 inches.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14).

That parable from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount inspired my 1980 painting, Two Roads. While artists have depicted scenes from the Bible since at least the 3rd century, my aim was to create an image unlike any seen before: an in-depth portrayal of the ultimate duality through symbolic imagery.

Tree Spirits

Three dancing Dryads in a moonlit grove.
Tree Spirits, 2023, acrylic on canvas panel, 24 x 24 inches.

This painting portrayed the ancient mythological beings known as Dryads. They were essentially the embodiment of trees in the form of young enchanting women. Departing from the traditional portrayal of these beings as flesh-and-blood women, I chose to present them as spirit creatures instead, which was much more evocative.

Musical Mirage

Record album art featuring a man and woman imagining a musical performance by a band of foxes.
Musical Mirage, 1979, acrylic on canvas panel, 12 x 12 inches.

Let's take a trip back to 1979 and revisit an oldie but goodie - Musical Mirage. Throughout my artistic journey, I've always sought to embrace fresh challenges such as this piece, a hypothetical album cover. My concept pictured a young couple listening to music, who are so inspired by what they hear, that they imagine a whimsical vision of a fox band performing the songs!

Autumnal Woods

Painting of trees from the Wellington Botanical Gardens in New Zealand.
Autumnal Woods, 2022, 24 x 18 inches.

The awe-inspiring landscapes of New Zealand served as my muse for a painting that holds special meaning to me. While living there in 2004-2005, I was immersed in the world of character animation for Peter Jackson's King Kong movie, spending long hours behind a computer screen at the studio. To find solace from the demanding work, I sought refuge in the Wellington Botanic Gardens during my free time. The magnificent trees that graced the gardens intrigued me, and I captured their beauty through my photography. Years later, in Los Angeles, I revisited those memories and decided to bring that scene to life on canvas, drawing inspiration from my photographs.

The Sabertooth's Domain

A sabertooth cat roars over a canyon with mountains in the distance.
The Sabertooth's Domain, 2022. Acrylic on canvas panel, 18 x 24 inches.

The iconic saber-toothed cat known as Smilodon has captured my imagination since I was was a child. What an incredible creature! Many excellent artists have portrayed Smilodon since its discovery in the fossil record. Inspired by their efforts, I decided to take on the challenge and create my own interpretation of this prehistoric predator in its natural habitat - Southern California over 10,000 years ago.

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