My passion for creating visual images initially came from within, but seeing the work of other artists has always spurred me on. I have memories, going back to early childhood, of specific encounters with works of art and of being inspired by the artists who created them. N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations in Treasure Island had a profound impact on me when I was 8 years old. I spent countless hours during my early childhood staring at a reproduction of an Eric Sloane painting that hung in my family’s living room (which I’m certain had a lot to do with my latter-day fascination with barns.) and Fritz Eichenberg’s wood engravings were very inspirational. Later, I was introduced to the paintings of Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer and Winslow Homer, along with countless others once I became an art major in college. Studying and transcribing the works of other artists, especially the ones with whom we feel a strong affinity, can be immensely beneficial in terms of developing both technique and a visual vocabulary.
Copying the work of another artist affords us an opportunity to get inside the artist’s mind and understand the decisions that they made during their artistic process. It also (if we pay attention) can help us to develop an understanding of the specific aspects of that artist’s work that are most closely related to our own personality. When I was a student, I copied the work of several of my favorite artists. Sometimes I did exact transcriptions, but most of the time I focused on learning specific elements of the work. I did gesture drawing studies, value studies in charcoal, and oil sketches based on finished oil paintings in order to examine the compositional structures of the works. I did several pastel studies of paintings by Edward Hopper, Claude Monet, and John Constable, which were extremely helpful in developing my understanding of how to use color to structure a painting.
By studying and transcribing works created by our influences, we can develop our own vocabulary and a better understanding of how to use visual form to communicate personal ideas. Looking at the work of a variety of artists from different time periods and stylistic trends is essential if we want to develop a large visual vocabulary. Eventually, however, we reach a point where we have to jettison our influences and distill the elements that we take from those influences down to their most basic essence and, more importantly, find ways to combine what are seemingly incongruous methods and ideas into a cohesive, personal visual language.
I am equally enamored of the work of Rembrandt, John Constable, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Giorgio Morandi, Mark Rothko, to name but a few, and, although this painting doesn’t look like the work of any of those disparate artists, I can see the influence of each and every one of them in it. We develop our artistic voice in a way similar to how we develop our personality. We take various bits and pieces from a variety of different people that we encounter throughout our lives, our choices based on a personal, subjective intuition that helps us to recognize those character traits that resonate with our own distinct personality. And we continue to do this throughout our lives as we meet new people who influence us and cause us to modify our way of thinking or our behavior. It’s important for all artists to continually seek out the creative work of others as a means of expanding both our vision and our vocabulary.
Nothing can exist without its opposite. There can be no light without darkness, order without chaos, sound without silence, life without death. The co-existence and the balance between seemingly contradictory forces have always been of interest to me. I am continually confronted with contrasts between the various elements that make up my work: light and dark, form and space, movement and stasis, balance and instability, structure and improvisation.
As an artist inspired by the landscape, one of the challenges that I am regularly faced with is reconciling the dichotomy which exists between the protean, ephemeral, and transient qualities of my subjects (both nature and my personal feelings) and my attempts to create static, long-lasting images that represent them. Nature is in a constant state of flux. The never ending cycle of growth and decay and the changing seasons play out under a light that's rarely the same for more than a few minutes.
Drawings and paintings are static images. We may have a different experience with each consecutive viewing of a specific painting because we may have changed, but the image itself remains constant and still.
There are a variety of methods that artists can use to suggest a sense of time and motion in a static image. One particular method which I regularly make use of is a loose, gestural application of the drawing or painting materials to the paper or canvas, which will invariably suggest to the viewer the movement engaged in by me as I worked. The marks that I make on the surface, although static themselves, can (hopefully) become manifestations of movement and energy. While the drawing or painting remains unchanged, it contains within itself a sense of the fleeting nature of the subject. The marks are meant to describe not the outward appearance of the subject but, rather, my personal reaction to and my engagement with it.
The transient nature of all things has always been (whether or not I was consciously aware of it!) an important part of my work. And so, as everything around me continues to change, grow, move, decay and eventually cease to exist, I will continue to spend my time creating static images which somehow contain the energy that animates the universe in which we live.
I am a full time artist, originally from Massachusetts, currently living in northern Maine. I work primarily in oils and pastel, and occasionally watercolor. I offer instruction in drawing and painting at my studio, which is in an old renovated potato barn. Please feel free to view samples of my work (You can see a larger version of each picture if you click on it.) and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Be sure to click the "Older Posts" button at the bottom to see more work. I don't always have time to respond to comments, but if you wish to correspond with me, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org