“String Love” (above) is an acrylic on board abstract created in the style of American expressionist Jackson Pollock. Safley’s self-portrait in abstraction (left) looks as though it could be the dotted line of a highway. Also by Safley are “Nightfish” and “Pond” (below). Safley’s paintings can be viewed at from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at Yesterday’s Blossoms, 275 Theater Alley, Medford. The shop also stays open late for the Third Friday art walk in Medford.

Finding the artistic connection

Larry Safley began painting "at the turn of the century," he says. "I write a lot, and I sort of ran into a writer's block. Then in 2000, I found myself painting and showing my work."

Self-taught, the Central Point artist found some immediate and positive responses to his paintings. Several local galleries began showing his art, giving him the exposure he needed to get started.

"More and more, I've been getting my work out in front of people," Safley says. "The Third Friday art walks in Medford give me an opportunity to interact with people and discuss my work. Since most of my paintings are abstract expressionism, I think they can be intimidating to some folks. I look for a connection point between me and the viewer, something the viewer can relate to."

Though it may be something altogether different than what Safley relates to, he says that when he starts talking about a connection, he can see the viewer opening up visually.

"Abstract isn't good or bad," Safley says. "If you like it, you like it."

Safley didn't really know that much about the American abstract expressionists and their art movement from the '50s and '60s, he says.

"Folks would tell me that my work reminded them of guys like Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and the rest," Safley says. "I guess I'd say that Pollock turned into my biggest influence. His work just makes sense to me. Sometimes it's the process of putting paint to the board or canvas that leads an artist to a place."

When Safley begins his paintings, he sometimes starts out with a color, but most of the time, he says, he starts out with a mood.

"The painting turns into an improvisational activity," Safley says. "It's the action that keeps me going. And I've learned that the most important aspect of my painting is to stop at the right time."

Safley's painting titled "Self-portrait" is a curiosity in that it is a portrait created in an abstract style.

"I started with colors that are comfortable to me," Safley says. "Blues, reds, yellows and grays, those are pretty much the standard colors for me. Then I asked myself where I was in all of it, and it began with one line that became broken up and skewed a little bit. It could be the dotted lines of a road. It really encompassed a whole lot of different aspects of myself. When I was finished, I was able to look at it and say 'that's me,' and I was happy about it."

Safley now shows his work at Yesterday's Blossoms in Medford.

"The venue has provided great opportunity for me," Safley says. "I try to have a half a dozen new paintings for each of the Third Friday art walks. It keeps me connected, and I enjoy watching the barriers come down about what is considered art in downtown Medford."

Call 772-3484 or 664-1033 for more about Safley.

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