When I was younger, painting nature irritated me– everything was constantly changing. The sun rose and set, casting its light in continuously shifting moods of color. First cool, then warm, then hot, then cool again. The breeze blew, or didn’t, the leaves danced a constant pattern of steps I couldn’t even begin to decipher. People, animals, even insects, moved in and out of my field of vision, interrupting the scene before me.
As I grew as a painter I found what was once a source of irritation became the entire reason I wanted to paint. Not the absolute truth of a single moment; I wanted to paint the possibilities, the movement, the constant shift of life itself – not an easy task when you are working in a medium that is essentially stationary.
I have tools. I can draw. I love color and have a deep affinity for its many subtleties. I have an unconventional sense of design and use that to my advantage when I lay out a canvas. But capturing the fundamental mutability of life is a daunting task, one I have been trying to do for years now.
In the forty plus years I have been painting, art and art’s place in our society has changed radically. Web-based media and art fairs have risen up to challenge the traditional gallery scene. Curators seem less purveyors of fine art than followers of the latest trend. Deep pocket collectors think nothing of spending millions on a big name, but are less interested in the multitude of talented artists who work in near obscurity.
This forum is meant to be a conversation about painting and the state of the arts. It is a way to share my work, the joy I find in painting and the pure frustration that overcomes me on a daily basis. It is a way to debate and deliberate on the place of fine art in our Western society. And finally, it is a way that my friend Mollie and I can communicate our shared love of painting.
I grew up in the Midwestern floodlands, a landscape whose deep quiet and solitude lent books and images a powerful reality. Those early impressions influence my approach today: Though many painters start a painting with a place or person they see before them, my inspiration has almost always begun with poetry, with events from my own life or my feelings about them. Sometimes I feel like I’m a poet trying to be a painter, or a painter trying to be a poet.
I’m fascinated by trying to represent things that do not initially take place in the visible world. How do you paint the contradictions within yourself? The way that you sometimes know what a close friend is thinking? The intricate inwardness of a Rilke poem?
As a solo pursuit, painting is an art in which friends and allies are hugely meaningful. Especially in light of so much contemporary art that is simply non-aesthetic, it seems crucial to connect with other painters who are still deeply involved with beauty.