For the past thirty years, eco-landscape has been Ken Worley's subject of choice, depicting a still and simplified nature, where every tree looks like a tear and every hill mother earth's anxious breast. His goal is to record through his paintings the feel of his favorite small patch of nature rather than its literal appearance, in a subtle way that brings the viewer's attention to the difference. "Landscapes are sensory things," he wrote. "They are always changing. One has no control over a landscape. And there's a mystery to them. Viewing a landscape is like looking at chaos and discovering order by making some sense of it. There's so much adventure in there, so many possibilities."
Worley depicts a world surreally free of both men and their structures. "I'm painting light, but not entirely with an Impressionist's preoccupation," he describes. "I enjoy the works of Vermeer, de Chirico and Balthus, not so much for the figures in their work, but because of the glassy stillness of the 'air' in their paintings, the sense of suspended drama. Perhaps the tradition I work in is close to Edward Hopper or Ingmar Bergman in the sense that my landscapes are actually 'sets' or 'settings' in which some human activity will occur or has just occurred."
Process is also a very important part of Worley's work. He uses oil pastels to make sketches and then mills his own oil sticks in the studio for painting. Through a process of layering and scratching into the surface, he arrives at his final image. In many ways, this tactile approach to his work is so essential to the reading of his work.
Worley currently lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.
1978-80 Studied with James Butler, color lithography, Illinois State University
1976 MFA, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California
1965 BFA Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
School of Fine Arts Fellow of American Academy, Rome, Italy