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Thoughts

I think art is where we go to see how others see the world.

At its core painting is reductive. It is a search for the essentials of the artist’s vision as seen through experience, knowledge and sense of life. At its best landscape painting connects in a way that joins the spirit of painter, viewer and place in an experience that is insightful, poetic and deeply visual.

Place paint and painter. When they come together at the edge of the possibilities, the painting can exceed the sum of parts and offer real creativity.

In a fundamental way paintings are fictions in search of truths.

When there is a conflict between place and structure, I most often choose structure.

Because of the ever changing contexts in painting, understandings are fluid. You work towards certainty, but it is elusive and also that which makes the act of painting so compelling.

The rules of painting are like those of baseball. Within those rules almost anything can happen and there lies the seeming magic.

I love mixing colors, and finding those small differences that can be so significant. It is pure fun.

Painting on site is fundamentally different than working from a photograph. Besides the obvious difference of finding a flat representation of that very much 3-d world instead of having the camera make those choices for you, Time is incorporated in the painting in a way that has the potential to be much more interesting and creative than that found in a photograph.

I think how we respond to the landscape is in part formed by our contemporary cultural views of nature, but in the act of painting on site I’m often moved more by what might be an 18th century idea of nature. The sense of awe and sublime where the ominous power of nature is dominant, and painting within it is precarious and compelling.

Sometimes when starting painting in a new location it is easy to be seduced by the picturesque. The search for what is individual and compelling often comes within the making of the painting. I find greater richness and depth when I work in a series of paintings where I return to the same place multiple times. By treating the paintings as a series, the second painting is informed by the first and the reverse and so on, so rather than a linear development it is more like widening spiral, and rich context to work within. Getting beyond the picturesque and clichés of what you like and what you know is an essential of growing as a painter.

It is important to find equilibrium between the subject and the elements of a painting to where the viewing of the painting is an experience where there is an seamless integration of all the elements, but for me the primary of painting is color.

If you emphasize the value structure of a painting you run the risk of ending up with a colored drawing. The value structure is an essential of a painting, but should be in a supporting role to the color.

Small contrasts can be very powerful in the right context.

There is always a relationship between the overall harmonies in a painting and the contrasts. If the harmonies dominate the painting will be dull. If the contrasts dominate the painting will be chaotic and difficult to read. I find the most engaging paintings ride the knife edge between the two.

I think that if I didn’t paint on site I’d have to hunt or fish find some other excuse to be out there. I love the being there part of painting. There is an active engagement and focus in painting on site that is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. All the distractions of wind, heat, cold and bugs in the end, seem to sharpen ones vision and lead to those unexpected discoveries that are sometimes missed in the studio. At the end even when the painting isn’t particularly successful there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from having “been there”.

Informed perception: I didn’t think anatomy was very interesting or important. But, when I studied anatomy, and it became integrated into that body of knowledge that is always there below the surface, my work from the figure became more substantial and personal. While it may be true that drawing what you see is often the primary objective in drawing, it is also true that the richer you are in knowledge and experience, the potential for deeper and more significant work is greater.

Some paintings are like epic novels and others seem more haiku like. For me, I’m more engaged and drawn to contemplation at the haiku end of the spectrum.



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