My approach to painting has changed through the years. Different artist,separately and collectively have influenced my approach to art making.
I believe a painting exists as both a window to the world and an object. It’s a creation of something that now has a new material presence in this world.
I was often put off by people’s reaction to my figurative work. They were almost always responding to subject matter in a personal way. My paintings could never be called “narrative” and thus I realized to get people to look at the way I painted, as opposed to what I painted, I needed to lose the “subject.”
My first recognition of the power of “form is content” was seeing the work of the abstract expressionists. Seeing a Dekooning from the 1950’s like “Pallisades” or “Montauk Highway” or the black and white heroic efforts of Franz Kline in person were truly powerful. The bravado brushwork and gesture, and the importance of color and composition. Here the artist couldn’t automatically rely on replicating the colors of nature. The all over compositions led the viewers eye throughout the painting.
Seeing Richard Diebenkorn’s retrospective was also key. Previously thinking he was a master of color and light only to find out he was a great master of composition. His paintings on cigar box lids radiate as much power as his six foot “Ocean Park” efforts. The tautness and rigor of these compositions existed in both his figure and abstract work.
His process helped me to make my ideas more concrete and objective. Diebenkorn spoke of an “emotional rightness of painting”
My aesthetic became one of problem solving the picture plain. I believed in a less subjective light that “good Painting” did exist in the formal language of painting: shapes, edges, color, composition, brushstroke, etc.
It is a language and dialogue that links such great and disparate artists as Vermeer, Hopper, Mondrian, DeKooning, and Diebenkorn together.