Looking at this detail of John Cleaveland's painting (original oil on panel, 34 x 80 in.) "Thread of Light, Okefenokee Swamp, GA" is a meditative experience, much like being out on the water he renders so finely. Humans are drawn to water, and for aesthetic reasons as much as practical ones. Cleaveland himself spends time out on it and says, "Unpowered watercraft are my thing. You're moving really slowly in this painting. You've pulled the paddle up and you're just gliding." Although he started out as an abstract painter while getting his bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Georgia, time at UGA's Cortona, Italy, study-abroad program lifted the veil from his eyes about representational art and converted him to landscapes. He's spent the past few decades wandering from his hometown of Farmington, Georgia, just outside Athens,
to Missouri, Montana, and France (in a series of World War I battlefields), but he keeps coming back to Georgia. Cleaveland says that painting different places is a lot like travel in that it gives him fresh eyes. "It keeps me from not seeing what I'm looking at," he adds.
To create his paintings, he takes hundreds of photographs, examining them later to see what feels like the right image. He says that he'd been in the Okefenokee Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia-Florida line, for two or three days by the time he saw this scene of one long stretch of river, with sentinel-like cypress trees standing straight up out of the water.
If you feel like there's meaning underneath the beauty of Cleaveland's work, you're absolutely right. He's very serious about conservation ecology and feels that places like the Okefenokee deserve to exist not just because people think they're beautiful or "because our long-term survival depends on these places" but because they inherently have a right not to be destroyed. His intense focus on getting them right is a way to give people seeing these paintings the same kind of renewed vision he constantly seeks for himself.
• 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
• Finished Puzzle Size: 19.25" x 26.625"
• Linen pieces on quality blueboard backing
• Matte Finish to reduce glare
• Recommended Age: 13+ Years