I have always been interested in exploring many kinds of art, whether it be in an abstract approach, or a finely detailed realistic work, or a soft and flowing impressionistic endeavor. Usually, when working in one area, the painting itself begins to suggest ideas for other works, or other ways of doing a given task, either by an accidental stray brush stroke, or by a color being used for under painting. One thing always leads to another, and sometimes, it is hard to keep progressing on the original work, when so many other possibilities are being brought up. It’s surprising to me sometimes, that artists are able to actually finish a given work before beginning a new one, since most of the time we have multiples in various stages of completion—while several are drying, we work on the one that is ready for new layers of paint. For me, working in acrylics has always been a fun challenge since the paint film is drying as I work, and blending of areas has to be done quickly and carefully to produce a desired result. The fast drying quality of acrylic paint is a big plus since most of the time, smearing is not an issue. The name of the game is working on various projects. By nature, some will be easier to work on and proceed at a fast pace, while others may be quite complex and take weeks and weeks to complete. Note, though, that even paintings that one has spent a lot of time on may not be acceptable to our own eyes, and may very well end up being destroyed. Countless hours don’t necessarily equate with great product. At least to the artist making the object, the image in paint must perfectly align itself with the image in the mind’s eye.
Another area I constantly explore in any art work, is the fabulous interaction of various colors. The use of color can make a subject roar with excitement or become quiet and melancholy, all depending on how each color reacts with the ones around it. This is where the fun really begins. A lot of trial and error occurs while mixing just the right intensity and value of a color to produce the right effect when placed next to, or around, another color. Often, just when it seems the perfect choice is made, it will change drastically when in the vicinity of another color. It’s a back and forth game of lightening or darkening, increasing or decreasing the amount of one color or another, or adding complementary colors–all to get just the perfect effect. Another very interesting note is to take a digital photo of the work in progress. Making a 4 x 5 print of this digital image shows the whole scene in the palm of your hand, and sometimes, glaring errors in color mixing can be seen that are not readily observed in the large format of the original painting. It’s surprising how many things can be missed when being so up close and personal with a work.
My choice of subject is such a matter of personal taste. With a background in biology and medical illustration, I’m always interested in various plant and animal forms, and how they interact with their surroundings. I always need to remind myself that an object exists in a certain space, with other things, possibly, going on around and behind it, and this space around the object is just as important to recognize as is the object itself. Landscapes offer such wide varieties of nuances of color and intriguing shapes. It is precisely this that gives this subject matter so much appeal to the artist. Depending on the kind of landscape chosen, these colors and shapes can be used to soothe the soul, or make a beautiful forest inviting, yet ominous. My maternal aunt, who was a wonderful painter, guided me gently in my very early years, and often talked with me about my drawings and “paintings”. She taught me that sometimes in painting, a “looser” brush is called for, and feathery and fuzzy fantastic images can appear seemingly out of nowhere. I owe a great deal to this lovely aunt for her patience, gentle guidance, and encouragement during those early years. We were always surrounded by flower or vegetable gardens, and just the smell of either evokes powerful memories of the good earth and more youthful times.
In the mid eighties, we started spending summer and fall up in the gorgeous Colorado mountains. My favorite subject from those days is the aspen tree, with its thin, long body reaching for the heavens, its white stippled bark, and its intense yellow and orange leaves in the fall. I’ll always be able to picture a grove of these clustered trees with snow capped purple mountains behind them. Unforgettable!
The human figure is one of the most beautiful things on earth, and also, one of the most difficult things to draw, paint, or sculpt. This subject always offers up a wonderful challenge, and that is why I am always ready to start thinking of new and different ways to portray a given human subject. I’ve worked on many, many figures over the years, and I am constantly observing the way light falls over a face or shoulder, or how an unusual haircut can change the look of a face. In shopping at the big box stores, a plethora of new subjects with unusual looks is always cropping up out of nowhere, and they are always interesting to observe, and sometimes, start a conversation with. In doing so, it is much easier to get a much closer look at the individual, and file it away in memory to retrieve at a later date. Better yet, capture the image with the ubiquitous I-phone, asking permission first, of course. I’ve found that by introducing myself as an artist, and showing the person of interest photos of paintings pulled up on the I-phone, that most folks are very agreeable to having their photo taken. It still truly amazes me how much variety is present in the human figure, and that, in a nutshell, is what makes “us” so interesting!