The observation of beauty is an invitation to pause and to just be present. My intention is to allow my viewer the experience of that pause, during which the encroachments of daily life fall away.
Learn More About Bernie Weston
I use beauty to invite people to slow down, allowing their perception to become more sensitive. ‘Beauty’ is my invitation to the viewer to depart from ordinary perception and to bask in the revelation of ‘the now.’ It is a reintroduction to the everyday sublime, to that which is happening in the moment that we don’t always notice. My art reintroduces us to a world we’ve become accustomed to, to the sensory world in which we are embedded, but take for granted -- such as the sky or trees. The most remarkable kind of transcendent experience is the one we’re having right now: an experience, free of memory or anticipation of the future. That’s my intention as an artist.
My process is fairly simple. I apply hand-pigmented Venetian plaster to canvas on board, using plaster and drywall tools, brushes, baking-, cake-decorating, and auto-body tools, and whatever else I might find. After the plaster cures, it is burnished with mica-silver/mica-gold, and then treated with a protective wax layer that bonds the plaster, giving it a final luster.
My compositions and colors are inspired by ancient Chinese and Japanese brushwork on paper. My Sumi-e studies in a Buddhist Temple and brushwork apprenticeship with contemporary Chinese Master Yuebin Gong are evident in my work. Sumi-e is a contemplative discipline in Japanese Buddhism, and it is practiced in the Zen and Shingon traditions.
More important than the physical process of ‘producing art’ is my frame of mind or state of being. As a Zen Master or Chinese Sage would have done, I start my work day by emptying my mind of chatter or clutter to become present for ‘the process.’ Meditation, Yoga, and Chi Gong all give me access to clearing my mind. Only then do I begin my work.
Often, I feel like a little boy, afraid of jumping into a chilly pool when I approach the blank canvas. Terror and exhilaration rise up, simultaneously. Sometimes, the ‘spirit’ of everybody I’ve ever known, loved, hated, or wished things had gone differently with are there with me in my studio. Once I am ‘in’ the piece, however, I experience a sense of disappearing: it’s an “unworldly pleasure” wherein thoughts, the spoken word, and time lose all definition for me. Terror becomes calm, exhilaration becomes focus, and that ‘crowd’ quietly dissipates.
In 1991, while attending school for Mathematics, I started to seriously pursue working in oil, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pen, and my favorites – Sumi-e and Chinese landscapes on rice paper. In 2005, I was helping my parents with a bathroom and kitchen remodel when I saw a demonstration for a Venetian plaster product. I was dazzled by its luster, glow, and the organic beauty of its ground marble and therefore trained in Los Angeles as an installer. Next, I began experimenting with the plaster as an artistic medium. In 2007, after seemingly endless hours of trying different tools and techniques, I began producing high-quality abstract pieces. I had found a niche, a unique tangent. In July 2009 I made a mid-career choice to become a full-time artist. At last, I had found my voice, in ‘my medium.’