Oil paintings by Daric M. Gill

The Quiet Calm In “Absolute: Stillness”, New Painting From Europe

The Quiet In “Absolute: Stillness”, New Painting From Europe

by Daric M. Gill

Oil paintings by Daric M. Gill
“Absolute: Stillness”, Oil paint on beech wood. 16 5/8” x 9”

It might sound weird, longing for stillness after 3 years of isolation in a tiny apartment. But after a few years of small spaces, digital experiences, recycled days, and turning around in the same stimuli, there developed a vibration in my soul that amplifies to this day.

Some artists need to make artwork or they go crazy. I’m not like this. My love affair isn’t with the art-making process or even the final art object. No. My primary love for creating art is all about idea-making; the journey of curiosity and problem-solving and the adventures before the artwork has even started. The creativity that comes out of my fingers is my way of digesting the vibrancy of life. Without remarkably different narratives to explore and no tangible place in which to share them, I was an adventurer with no expedition and a storyteller with no audience. And that, for me, produced a frequency of such amplitude that it compounded and ricocheted.

“Absolute: Stillness”, is the quiet calm feeling that washed over me as I finally made my way back to the adventure. In this case, back to Europe. Below you’ll find several vignetted stories describing some big-small memories, along with a full gallery of images. Read on for more.

{Feature Video of Painting Process Above}

Tangerine-rose color sunset on Eiger Mountain

A tangerine-rose color washed over Mount Eiger as the sun retreated. The next afternoon was bright and 30°F warmer than a typical June day. I barreled down a mountain on a tricked-out tricycle and lay in the wildflowers overlooking tiny alpine buildings. Giant cowbells clamored from necks nearby. Soon after, a deluge would sweep across the green grasses of Grindelwald, Switzerland. First, a soft white wisp of clouds combed up and over the peak of the mountain. The storm slowly consumed the rock in a grey haze and evening darkness. Claps of thunder ricocheted off the three mountain peaks around my rented cabin room. From my simple balcony, I listened to the thunder describe the stone giants around me through a roll of acoustic echos. The fine mist that had gathered on my arm hair turned into large beads before I came inside.

Crystal blue waters of Lake Lucerne

The last time I visited Luzern I had fallen sick from a fun, albeit ill-fated house party in Germany. One of the house members came down with a pretty effective stomach flu that went through almost every one of the guests over the next few days. The one real splurge on this latest trip was to have a ‘do-over’ at the same hotel in Vitznau, overlooking the reality-defying turquoise waters of Lake Lucerne. Lucky for me, the hot weather continued and there was an affordable availability at the hotel. I hiked the legs of my shorts up as high as I could and walked down the steps leading into the glacial water. The rounded-off stones, most the size of a fist, fit into the arches of my feet. To my immediate right, a 15-foot drop to the bottom. But the water, so clear and blue, refracted the sun so that it appeared achievable to step into without getting so much as the base of my shorts wet. This would be the first of many dips into cool water this summer. A few hours later, I relaxed at a restaurant perched at the water’s edge, as the sun took its own turn dipping into the lake.

Dresden Apartment
Soft light as it comes into my apartment in Dresden, Germany

If you had asked me a year ago to recall the smell of my temporary apartment in Germany from 2019, I couldn’t tell you. But as I opened the door last month, a shackle unlocked in my memory. It’s earthy; somewhere between the smell of tree bark after it rains, cut cabbage, and a tiny corner bookstore. A milky white light poured into the room via the front wall of windows, diffused by the sheer curtains. Dried spherical flowers set in an upcycled glass water bottle, making a familiar silhouette in the satiny light. While the furniture was in a different place, almost everything in the opened floorplan was the same as the day I left. It felt as close to home as any apartment I’ve known as an adult.

Of course, the flat isn’t actually mine, though you’d be right in thinking that I often refer to it as “my apartment in Germany”. A few years ago I received a fellowship for an artist residency in Dresden. I really sank into the fabric of the town. I let it grow around me. When I arrived back in the US, I quietly made plans to return 7 months later. But 7 months later, the world would be unrecognizable.

I moved the bed to its former spot and fluffed the pillows, 3 down feathers slowly floated to the parquet floor. As I picked up one feather, I spotted the edge of a familiar piece of wood sticking out from beneath the kitchen utensils. On my last visit, I used a handsaw to cut down a section of beech wood for a previous painting. Its remainder was stacked neatly as a cutting board. The next day, I clumsily asked the shop around the corner for some sandpaper. “hast du Schleifpapier? 350?” He handed me a single rust-colored sheet. Ten minutes later, I started this painting.

I turned 40 this April. This year needed to be one of tangibility…

This trip was an anchor in another time. It was an earnest promise that I made to myself on repeat during the empty space of the global pandemic. It was a positive symbol of before, looking onwards. It was a goal I could aim for after global illnesses, numerous postponed opportunities, countless canceled exhibitions, the commercial futility of online art shows, dissolved residencies, and several family health crises.

It was only suitable that upon returning to the US my flights would also be postponed, canceled, and my luggage lost in the ethos for nearly a week. Including this painting. This experience was a battle through and through, but it was worth it. The painting, like myself, returned; A little quieter and a little stiller.

This is why it’s tremendously satisfying to tell you that this piece along with many others, will be on display at my solo show The Absolutes: Big-Small Stories at The Massillon Museum from August 6 – September 21, 2022. In addition, another previously unseen painting is now in the Cartas de Cuba – Letters from Ohio exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art from August 4 – August 29, 2022.

It’s good to have something to say and people for whom to say it.

…I’m already looking for that next adventure.

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