Know Myself

This is another repost from my former blog site. Enjoy!

The turning point in my own art came about when I realized one thing: that I was better suited to the imprecise than the precise. Although I admire the clarity of line of a Frank Stella or Henri Rousseau (shown below), my own skills fit better with a more expressive line – like some of Kandinsky’s work. With Kandinsky I get both, as his work became more precise as time went on.

Henri Rousseau, War, c. 1894 Collection of the Musee d”Orsay
I continue to be in awe of precision – technical facility always dazzles me, and allows for some enjoyment even of the most banal subjects – like the endless shore scenes painted by local artists where I live. Some of them are quite good at capturing the grass on the dunes, and the quality of ocean light.

I began painting abstractions with small, Seurat-like dots, which give a dryness to the finished work that I couldn’t warm up to. In time I switched to larger, more impulsive spots of color, as close to impasto as I have ever gotten. The base coat of one of my paintings is very loose, a thin layer applied with limited care. Then the surface is built up with spots of color to make the final coats. In a way I paint in two styles on each painting.

Wassily Kandinsky, Composition V, 1911, Private Collection
Finishing a painting is a tricky process. A painting might sit for months or even years before I decide the colors are complete and balanced. A few early pointillist works I have reworked in larger dots, which almost always improves them vastly. I don’t have the skill for fine line – and a tremor in my right hand complicates matters – but the loose brushwork of my style not only suits me, it satisfies me. For now, that is: growth is a constant if you want to be any good as an artist, so I’m always aware that this too shall pass.


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