Excerpted from Abstract Art New Mexico Artist Series
by By Suzanne Deats
Look and look again. And again. Each time there is something more, something different, something deeper. The view from one's own front door changes continually with the seasons, the light, the weather, the tine of day, and the movement of passersby. A neighboring hillside, seen every day, slowly becomes familiar. After a year or so, the most minute deviations are immediately perceptible. One can spot the lightning-struck tree, the dislodged boulder., the progress of new growth.
In the same way one's viewpoint expands when regarding an abstract work of art. The image is clear enough to be registered in an instant, yet a lilfetime is not enough to absorb every subtle and secret passage. This is amazing, especially considering that a painting never changes. Not one brush stroke moves. In order to keep unfolding, the wily image must offer successively more literate interfaces, must yield its secrets slowly, must wait around every corner for the unfolding of the mind that comes before it each day.
Nancy Ortenstone is able to project endlessly complex and subtle shifts in consciousness because she has chosen to concentrate on the light of northern New Mexico as her creative vehicle. When she arrived from San Miguel de Allende in 1986, she was so stunned by the quality of the light on the land that she immediately began to paint full time. "It was like coming home to the right world and the right medium," she says. "I had come home to myself. It had to do with the wealth of art and artists in the area, with living every day in this incredible light. Everything changed when I came to New Mexico."
Ortenstone is thoroughly grounded in her own mind and skin as well as in her environment. She has an acute sense of place, not only of her lyrical surroundings in the quiet mountain village where she lives and works, but of the swift and dizzy spinout of the larger world. Transition has become a way of life for her. "I need for my paintings to be more spacious right now," she says, "I hope they are evolving from a deeper place."
She paints, observes, paints, and observes some more. The image changes, and changes again. And again. "I think I've become more trusting," says Ortenstone. It's not that my paintings are easier to paint now, it's that I've learned how to trust the whole process of transformation.