On September 17, 2007, Dick Elliott was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“I was immediately confronted with my own mortality,” Elliott said. “Nationwide, only 5% to 10% of diagnosed pancreatic patients live beyond a year after diagnosis. Even though my oncologist has the best survival rate in the country, with many patients living five years or more, I knew I had big changes in sight.
“At the time, my work consisted of large-scale paintings, which required a lot of physical effort to complete. I decided I needed a new style, one that required as little physical effort as possible. I moved my painting to the computer. If I feel good enough to sit in a chair, I can work ”.
Although Elliott died in 2008, examples of this body of work, the “Vibrational Field” series of paintings, can be seen in an exhibition at the Larson Gallery.
Elliott wrote that this artwork was “composed of colored lines filling a field. This style has led to creative changes in the way I work. Now I have thousands of colors to choose from. I have arranged over 4,000 color swatches and I printed them so I know what the colors would look like on screen when printed.
“I cut out these color swatches and placed them on two tables in my studio. When I make a piece, I organize a group of colors so that I have a very good idea of how the colors will connect with each other in the piece. The breadth of color in this new work is new to me. “
“The second big change is that the computer allows me to process ideas pretty quickly,” he says. “An idea that would take months to paint, I can now complete in several days. This speed of processing ideas, combined with my new sense of mortality, has led to a creative explosion. “
In addition to his “Vibrational Field” series, examples of his reflector art are also on display. This exhibition was staged to coincide with the restoration of the “Circle of Light” at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Elliott wrote: “I am an artist who has been working for over 40 years and I consider the ‘Vibrational Field’ series of paintings to be my final game as an artist. The artistic ideas that emerge explore a wide range of ideas. It is the synthesis of 40 years of reflection on the possibilities of what art can be, an interesting roller coaster ride “.
Richard “Dick” Elliott’s “Vibrational Field” exhibition and Paul Heussenstamm’s “Mandalas as a Spiritual Path” exhibition are on display at the Larson Gallery until 27 August.
• David Lynx is executive director of Yakima Valley College’s Larson Gallery. He writes this weekly column for Explore. More information on www.larsongallery.org.