Artist's Statement


Sleepy Hollow Studio

I feel it necessary to provide a statement of purpose about my work, which hopefully, best describes what I am about. I have seen a lot of art which I was unable to understand without having had dialogue with the artist. This is what causes agony for those asked to judge juried competitions. One can certainly develop an appreciation for an artist's work. However, a true understanding is a different matter.

When I begin a new painting, it is usually about a subject with which I am very familiar and for which I have developed a strong feeling. People are constantly coming up to me and saying things like:
"I know where there is the most beautiful barn, or wagon wheel or fence post, etc. ... ." That's not what I am about at all. Of course my subject matter for the most part, is rural and rustic, but that is only a small part of it. My subject matter concerns my life experiences, where I live, who I know and what is of importance to me. It is somewhat disappointing to me when people fail to understand that in most cases my subjects have much deeper meanings for me than simple nostalgia or romanticism. Although I do take on commissions, I am very selective in the work that I attempt. A subject has to provide an inspiration and a challenge in order for me to accept the opportunity.

For me, a subject has to "come in the back door." As Andrew Wyeth said: "It comes up and hits you in the back of the head" when you least expect it. That's why I like to work from photographs. Aside from the fact that I work slowly, I find that having a camera provides a way to capture a subject immediately. Often there is just not enough time to develop a sketch or water color study fast enough before a scene changes. I can't help but feel that the camera is a wonderful tool for artists. I'm certain that great artists from the past would have jumped at the chance to work with the technology artists of today have at their disposal.

Composition is the most important aspect of my work. Additionally, I am concerned with what I call "Atmospheric Effect." Regarding composition, I feel this to be the area which can make or break a painting. There have been tenants of composition described by artists and critics for ages.

It never ceases to amaze me to realize the number of great paintings which break these rules and still work well compositionally! I sometimes view my work in a mirror or turn a piece upside down as a test for whether or not it "works." I am very conscious of the abstract qualities that are sometimes found in my paintings. Anyone viewing my work should see that I have a strong feeling for diagonals. Balance, or imbalance, also plays a part.

Using a camera gives an artist a certain advantage as far as composition is concerned. The viewfinder of the camera becomes the frame for the scene. The strong artist is the one who can take that image one step further in the studio and crop the scene or add elements to a scene in order to strengthen a composition. People who are familiar with subjects I have painted are often disappointed because they are, in many cases, not literal representations of how they remember them. To me, this is what defines the difference between the copy of a photograph and a painting. Photographs provide me with a point of departure. They are in a sense, my sketches.

Atmosphere sets the mood of a painting. I like it when people look at my paintings and tell me that they have a sense of how hot or cold the scene was, whether or not the wind was blowing, the odor of fresh straw or flowers or the feeling of dampness just after a rain. The monochromatic tone of light just after a storm has passed has always interested me as an artist. It's this type of light that I find most difficult to represent. Some of the painters of the Hudson River School achieved this. The impressionists were interested in capturing a different type of light, but one that also merits study.

Technique, I feel, is something that takes care of itself. Each medium has its own special techniques and methods. An artist who becomes overly concerned with technique will in most cases wind up with an overworked piece that is uninteresting and mechanical. The ability to
"handle" a medium is something that should be expected of an accomplished artist and as a result should be evident but not excessively apparent. The true artist cannot be a slave to technique. A good painting is one which achieves the artist's intentions in a subtle, transparent manner.

I would hope that the viewer of my work may come to understand the passion for art which drives me and compels me to strive for an elusive goal. As many other artists throughout history have said -
my favorite painting is my next one!