The way you describe these paintings, it makes me wonder how you find yourself viewing a painting? Because you paint, do you have a certain way you approach a painting when you view it?
No, it’s as if you were going to buy a painting. Suddenly something is attracting you to it, and you think what is it about this piece that makes it so exciting? For me, it’s a couple things. It’s the composition. Artists study the photographers, because without strong composition in your painting you just have a mash of stuff, but the photographers are brilliant in their composition. The FreeLance Star photographers are fantastic, by the way. So, composition; how is the painting laid out? How are the values laid on the painting? The lightest lights and the darkest darks and the inbetweens. Where are they and how do they relate to each other in the painting? The use of the brushstroke: are they fine; are they thick; is there an under painting? The more you look at paintings, the more you’ll see that there are similar kinds of structure throughout all the ages that make a great painting. If you paint a great big mountain, and then you paint a tree that looks like a lollipop, you can’t even see the mountain anymore because the tree is misshapen. If you have all of this visual imagery, how do you get your eye to flow through the painting? These are wonderful things to know and notice. Whether it’s a small painting like 8x8, or a massive thing, it still has to work.
How long do you find yourself drawn into a painting when you view? How long will you view a painting if it really grabs you?
Oh, I can be there for quite a while, so I hope there is a chair so I can stay there and view it. I would probably make some notes about that painting, then walk around and look at it again and try to determine what it is about that painting that so intrigues me. If I’m fortunate enough that it’s around here, I can visit it and it becomes an old friend. Can you recall a painting that knocks you off your feet when you see it?
Every time, some of Degas’ work is just fantastic to me, because he has layers of paint in there, layers and layers and layers. There was recently an exhibit of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas in the National Gallery, and they actually colluded. Her lines are horizontal, meaning she has horizontal plane that goes through her work, and his are diagonal. There was one particular painting, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, where you could see where he helped her redesign the painting. He put in a diagonal, where hers had been horizontal. He moved the little dog to a different position. He changed the attitude of the child reclining on the sofa. They’re just fantastic extraordinary structures, and then you can see these layers of painting that go through. They’re just tremendous. There are so many that I’d have to sit and think about them for a while. Makoto Fujimora’s works are just brilliant; every one of them I find to be spectacular.
Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Volume 3, Issue 1
These are just very fun things. Then, for instance, in the country of Burkina Faso, which is near the West Coast of Africa, when you ask about the arts they will say there are none. Then you see the most magnificent water jugs. It’s not considered an art; it’s considered utilitarian; however, it’s extraordinarily handsome craftwork on the jugs. Your insight is making me want to go view some art. What’s coming up for you this year?
I just opened a rather large exhibit at Gallery Flux this summer in Ashland, and that will remain as part of their permanent collection. It takes me about a year to prepare. I’m just beginning to think of what I’m going to do for next year. Some of it will depend on whether I travel from one place or another long enough to comprise or create a body of work. For the moment, I’m painting landscapes in town at the river and in the fields, and then in the winter I repaint my smaller pieces into large gallery pieces in the studio. That’s how I spend my time, so it’s very exciting. I always wonder myself what’s going to evolve. Do you have any final words of advice to people who might enjoy creating or viewing art?
I encourage people to look at art, to think about art, to talk to artists, and to try to understand what are they doing and why. Even if you’re commuting, you can make time for art. Some of my more interesting paintings came from commuting in the middle of the night on the train up to D.C. When the sun just comes up over the creeks, it’s spectacular stuff. Just be aware. Why not pay attention?
FLAR is an independently published literary and art magazine located in Fredericksburg, Virginia.