“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
I am a direct or immediate painter, quickly applying layers of wet paint to previous layers of wet paint. Direct painting, also called “Au Premier Coup” (“at first stroke”) or “Alla Prima” (“at first attempt”) is a spontaneous, intuitive manner of applying paint. I paint from life, usually in one session. This method offers the opportunity to imbue the painting with actual life experiences as well as aggregate knowledge. This is especially true with landscapes. Eugene Boudin, the man who inspired Monet, expressed this idea as follows:
“Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio . . . three strokes of a brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at
While some of my paintings, in particular, the still lifes and portraits, have been generated in a studio-like setting, the landscapes have been executed outdoors “en plein air.’’ When painting still lifes, I prefer a modern, simple approach. I believe that the selection of objects, their arrangement, and the chosen angle of looking at them reveal the presence of the artist. With portraits, I attempt to go beyond the requisite likeness of the person and focus on the perceived personality and character of the individual. And, when I’m out in nature, I seek to do more than paint just what I see in favor of capturing the essence of the place--the movement in the sky and water; the character of the rocks, land and trees; the intensity or softness of the colors; and the transience of light.
George Inness, a great nineteenth century landscape painter, believed that the artist’s task was
“to reproduce in other minds the impression which a scene has made upon him. It does not appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion . . . .Its real greatness consists in the quality and force of this emotion.” [George Inness, “A Painter on Painting,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Feb.1878, Reprinted in Bell, “George Inness: Writings and Reflections,” 60].
And, it is said of James McNeill Whistler that he too preferred to evoke rather than define. I am drawn to this approach because I believe that a painting should not serve simply to showcase the technical prowess or intent of the painter, but instead should allow the viewer to be an integral participant in the realization of the artist’s vision.