thoughts on painting in a post-painting world

Generally, I prefer to sit in front of a TV and never go out, but the other 90% of me does not cooperate with my desire to have the world processed by others. So I go out. And out is in Sedona. Living in a scenic area like Sedona admittedly influences both my eye and my art. Yes, we’re surrounded by natural scenic beauty, but also surrounded by printed and painted landscapes everywhere we look. An artist has to silently wonder if landscape painting is dead or if it can become something more. Painting landscapes is akin to writing in an anachronistic form, like the sonnet. There is really no reason to do it-artwise, it is just a personal exercise.

Nevertheless, believing perhaps that nature has something to teach us, I painted some  places I enjoy visiting.  After a few landscapes, I noticed each location has a personality that connects, in the mind, with a person of similar disposition. Pursuing this thought, I tried connecting to the memory of a person— with characteristics akin to a specific time of day, year, light, view and location— while painting. The resulting landscapes may just be landscapes to other viewers; but to me they are visualizations of personalities whom I enjoy(ed) as much as I enjoy these southwest locations. The visualizations or translations, after some time, started to liberate me from literal representations, lending me the freedom to  enhance some characteristics and eclipse others. If I want to connect more personally with nature; and imagining her with human attributes somehow helps make her more human. These landscape exercises never sell; the compositions are too dense to allow others to feel any space- its hard to get in there.

Any painting is a “child of two parents”—the concept and the process— with the result often looking more like one parent than the other. My process (the other parent) offers nothing new— I use methods developed by many painters who came before me, hacking out the composition with an assembly of shapes using acrylics for spontaneity, and connecting the parts with a  more nuanced palette using oils for greater range. In our time, paintings are rarely removed from their stretchers and rolled up for storage, so I paint on wood panels, layered with canvas and gesso— a support that promises optimum archival stability.

For the more personal me, I return to the TV, snatching stills and fragments, and later make paintings that mimic or parody what I see in that media, in a way that holds a different kind of beauty, but one that is accessible to those of us who live and breathe by television, film and related media.


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