Inspired by the wondrous nature surrounding him, painter John Warren Travis carries his landscapes wherever he goes. From the pass to the north, deserts and mountains of El Paso Del Norte, where he was raised, onto California where he arrived in 1960, the abundance of nature from shore to mountain has constantly replenished his spirit. After retiring from a long career as a theater designer and professor at UC Berkeley, Warren turned to painting. He approaches painting much the same as the creation of sets and costumes—starting with studies and thought sketches. Through building layers and mark making, he is able to bring to life an exploration of the world around him. He states, “I love the act of painting, and oddly enough, at the age of 88, I am beginning to see improvement.” Now, in Columbia, Missouri with decided seasons of winter snow, spring, summer, and autumn, his work attempts to capture the ineffable power of nature--”a spring from my graying” as he says. Not renderings, but reminders of this fragile terrain.
Reverence for nature comes in different ways to every person. In troubled times, we are compelled to think about nature with vastly increasing respect. Fires that darken the skies. lightning bolts ripping apart grey clouds. We stand together in awe, all of us, from every walk of life, as we are forced to behold nature's power and enormous capacities to both sustain and destroy. Unexpectedly, we lift our eyes and are dazzled by Spring's Awakening. Plants, flowers, grasses, and blossoms appear every spring, unbidden. The flowering fruit trees, cascading blossoms unexpectedly from grey branches. The grasses shooting up from bay shallows, convincing us of the powers unleashed by a brilliant restoration project. The ineffable dahlia in all its guises abounding worldwide–living proof of nature's abundance and variety. To be an artist and attempt to use paint and brushes to express my joy for these beautiful wonders is the great gift of spring.