As a poet and painter, Juduth Skillman’s abstract, expressionist landscapes are more than just a representation of a specific place at a particular time. . . with each highly-textured brushstroke, she also places additional layers of emphasis and meaning.
This first painting, entitled Ellensburg Canal, depicts deep blue irrigation water pulled from the Yakima River, which is then sent across miles and miles of farmland.
The striated lines of brown dirt on either side of the canal are dry and cracked—arid land, thirsty for the lifegiving water running like a highway of life between their parched banks. Even the sky looks dry, compared to that endless corridor of water.
Of course, water is always symbolic of life—and the lack thereof is just as important. In Yakima River, October (seen below) you can almost feel the weight and heat of the past summer lingering in the air.
Several feet down from the dry riverbank, sluggish brown water swirls, deceptively powerful even this late in the summer. Rising out of those walls of clay and roots, a barrier of yellow foliage declares the time of year, as if appealing for the rain of winter to come again.
Lastly, and continuing our exploration of the many faces of water, is Sea Spill.
Clouds full of unshed water dip low over thrashing waves, while deep orange light slips between their massive shapes. Hints of blue sky can be seen, just barely, through the veil of moisture that is ever-present in the Pacific Northwest.
If you’d like to see more of Judith Skillman’s paintings, please take a few minutes to visit her Etsy portfolio. Each of her fantastic, expressionist landscape paintings is well-worth a look.