What’s Your Impression? Part 1

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?

100904 Boy and His Bike

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.

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