By Ruby Love
Patrick Semple is an artist working primarily with oils on canvas, pulling from the natural environments around him to create works that fuse memory, emotion, and place. While Patrick Semple’s interest in art is not new, his interest in painting-specifically oil painting-is a fairly recent development. Inspired by a trip to Greece with his program Greece and Italy: an Artistic and Literary Odyssey, Semple began experimenting with painting.
He describes the incredible experience of exploring Greece:
“I got to see the treasures I’ve been studying in art history for the past four years. Especially iconographic artists of the 14th and 15th centuries like Giotto, whose teeth were found worn and altered from clenching a brush all his life. The colors in the landscapes were all so unbelievable, and they spoke to my soul. I was borderline antisocial the whole trip, just wanting to breathe in every passing moment, and record it in my little watercolor journal…”
While the inspiration was there, Semple says the process of learning how to use oils was an intimidating one.
“This summer was the first time I’ve wanted to try oil painting…. It’s so messy and permanent; not just an ‘ok paint a little then cleanup time’ type of thing, but an involved, committed process that may take days, and sometimes end up in tears.”
However, his experiences in Greece and a collaborative project with local artist China FaithStar “lit his fire” and oils soon became his primary medium.
The works by Semple featured on this edition’s covers are part of a series of oil paintings entitled “Sister Cities in Bloom,” which showcase “imaginary landscapes inspired by the transition of spring on the other side of the world; in our sister city of Olympia, Greece.” Semple explains the origin of this series,
“While I was there I totally missed my sweetie, and was feeling sullen and withdrawn until one day I felt a calling to start going on long runs. This helped open up my senses to all of the flora and fauna unique to that place; eucalyptus, fields of chamomile, wild poppies, all buzzing and singing like a song in unison, untouched by development like it is all too often in America.”
Because he was not able to paint in oils during his time abroad, Semple painted “Sister Cities in Bloom” upon his return, pulling from memories of Grecian landscapes as well as inspiration from the landscape of Washington. Therefore, “some are hybrid, imaginary landscapes conjured from both worlds…”
Semple is a recent Evergreen graduate, though he wishes he “could still sign up for 10 more programs,” and says his time at Evergreen impressed upon him the importance of being comfortable asking questions and “getting down to the bottom of whatever issues or ideas are brought to the table.” As Semple looks forward to continuing his career as an artist, he seeks to “use painting and color combinations to emulate that time between waking and dreaming—when you don’t know if things are real, but they are beautiful and a little unworldly.”
Semple’s series “Sister Cities in Bloom” is currently showing at Traditions Café in downtown Olympia, and will be on display until mid-October, so “grab yourself some black bean enchiladas and take it all in!”
You can find more of Semple’s work on Instagram