With Valentine’s Day just past, many of us have been considering the many and varied loves of our lives. One of my loves is painting. Why do I paint? The simplest answer is because it’s fun and satisfying. But that still begs the question … Why?
Unlike our forebears, we don’t need to record images for posterity. Cameras do that for us. Photographic realism and tromp l’oeil are at one end of a very long continuum. At the other end of the realism-abstraction continuum is pure abstraction, which focuses on use of color, design, and non-representational images. These paintings, too, have a legitimate purpose and place in the art world. Although I appreciate and can recognize the technical ability that go into fine art at either end of the spectrum, I find that some of the mid-continuum approaches “speak” to me most clearly. And that’s the art in which I find the greatest satisfaction.
So what is my purpose every time I begin working on a new image? I’ve taken as my guiding principle the old hymn lyric by Folliott Sanford Pierpoint: “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Lord of all, to Thee I raise this, my hymn of grateful praise!”
At first glance, some of my subjects may appear mundane. But I paint the joy, the pleasure, the excitement and sense of awe I experience in the world around me—the way light shines through a petal, the play of colors in an oceanscape, the graceful flow of line in an animal, the energy and sense of freedom of a child at play. For that I usually use an interpretive, impressionistic approach, based on literal images. My viewers can’t experience exactly what I experience, but I can share with them my impressions of the experience, allowing others to share in the feelings it evoked for me. So both at heart and at the easel I consider myself an impressionist.