About the Artist              color fields + realism + contemporary abstract art Spence head portrait 130px

Artist Statement



I paint in ritual and in process.

This ritual and process I’ve created to force me away from precise line and form. I colored strictly within lines as a child. I respected line and form and exactness and detail and perfection. I tended toward order and symmetry and the unflawed. My early training as an artist was in drawing and form and tone and tone painting and then color wash and still life and a very careful and complete and controlled result.

Part of that training was figure drawing. In the class we had a drill to sketch the figure posing for 30 seconds, re-pose, sketch again for 30 seconds, capturing as much of the life and form of the figure as you could. This was a revelation. There was no time for strict lines or proportion or form, there was flow and gesture and the development of trust of artistic decision and judgement. I became acutely aware of the value of “not perfect”, and of not thinking, of flowing with perception. And that has become a focus of my painting.

I believe in intuitive gestures in creating form and line.

I work toward an abstract that creates a contribution from the person looking at my painting. There aren’t clear objects, there are impressions and gestures and colors that suggest but don’t nail down the image. The person viewing has to add what they hold as experience and from that emotion.

I start with a blank canvas or surface.

I draw in the outlines of forms for the painting using pastels, one or more colors, but at this point it is about perception of general form, and line and flows between forms, not precise line.

From there I airbrush an underpainting in bright glowing colors, colors intended to flow through the translucent acrylics above it. That underpainting has line and form and color and it peeks through in some parts of the painting that follows, grounding the image in primary color.

From that I work with painting knives and thick pure paint, adding form and color. I paint to music, always. I use the music to find a flow of gesture, a feeling of flow, recovering that instinctive 30-second time window from figure drawing over much longer and intense periods. The painting knives force an inexactness, they force a suggestion of detail but prevent entirely nailing that detail down with precision. That forces me to trust that this process will work out, forces me to trust my own artistic judgement.

The painting holds that distance between abstract and realism. If you move close, the paint dissolves into motion and texture and gesture. Life, held close dissolves into motion and chaos, in distance there appears a sense of the whole.

The painting should NOT be a literal presentation of reality – certainly not photographic. A photograph is a drawing-by-light, drawing by controlled-and-engineered-reflection-of-light. It is an abstraction of reality, missing motion and limited in scope by frame of view.

A painting is an abstraction of light, movement, color, perspective and emotional and aesthetic impact. It can add an intangible and intuitive motion/emotion, an aesthetic harmony. It can communicate to a depth a straight representation misses.