What is the quality I seek in mountain images? What features? Mass. Weight. Largeness. Diffusions of light. Rolling forms. Linear patterns, lines that snake through the whole scene. Sensation of near and far. I am guessing. I am not altogether sure what the appeal is for me.

I don’t live near any mountains. I get source pictures for mountains from internet photos or books. More and more, I begin to make them up. Or I alter a photo source until my picture looks increasingly unlike its original. I ask myself if it’s real mountains I want or pretend ones.

Mountains have time in them. They’re old. Even “young” mountains are old (to us). Mountains suggest permanence. Jesus compared faith to moving mountains. In every religious tradition the mountain top is the place of visions.

Artistically, the forms are closely related to drapery. The old masters with their drapery studies might have been inventing mountain ranges. Gravity is the key in both instances — and light.

You can, like Albrecht Durer, punch a pillow and create some mountain ranges to draw. Or like Richard Dreyfuss’s character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you can make mountains from your mashed potatoes. They are closer than you realize.

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