Conceptual Cycles: Part II

I have been reflecting on my increasingly evident cycle of artistic patterns, recently. When I have learned what I need to from one particular style or a series, I move on to the next and advance it until I am ready to move on again. Eventually, I return to the beginning again, renewing the cycle, like a spiral that originates from a vague periphery and rotates itself toward the center, becoming more assertive as it refines and defines itself.

Since college, I have been fascinated with the Cubists. Their approach of rendering multiple angles of a form simultaneously with bold delineations breaking the figure down is both visually striking and conceptually advanced. Earlier in my career, in my own way, I attempted to work in a similar fashion through a series of jazz musicians. The instruments and intimate portraits easily lent themselves to the fragmenting of visual components, providing me with a structure to strengthen my compositions through line and form. (Example pictured, upper right)

After working this way for several years, I sought a more painterly approach with my work, making better use of color and brushstroke. The Impressionists seemed to offer the best blueprint to make this shift. In studying their compositions, I found it necessary to fully break away from Cubism. My work, therefore, moved through that direction and beyond, while my subject matter has also expanded to include ‘Scapes (expanses of land, sky and sea) and Narrative (implications of stories) works. Through this phase which has lasted the better part of four years for me now has enabled me to delve deeper into the potential of color and value. (Example pictured, lower right)

Artistically, I feel like I have absorbed concepts from both Cubism and Impressionism and am now able to employ elements of both into my work. Lately, I have considered Cubism again as I am realizing it matters less and less what I paint than how I paint it. In other words, the form, texture, depth and transition of my compositions have the potential to be as visually intriguing as my choice of subject matter. Stay tuned…

Conceptual Cycles: Part I

The easel was set up with my studio lights aimed at it to maximize the visual impact of each painting. I manually rotated individual works to gauge the prospective client’s interest. I began with my ‘Scapes series, having completed two pieces just a few days earlier that I was very satisfied with because of their subtle use of color and meditative qualities. The reaction was lukewarm so I shifted the private exhibit to show him work from my Interludes series.

Though the larger format, color, composition and content of these works seemed to draw slightly more interest from him, the client seemed largely unenthused about my Contemporary Expressionist style. He seemed, rather, to gravitate toward an older painting. I had removed it earlier from the storage racks to access other works and he noticed it leaning against the wall. It was the original “Blow” painting (pictured to the right) I had completed back in 2003, marking one of the very first paintings of the Interludes series.

The client explained he liked the Cubist approach I had taken, with its assertive outlines, breaking the form down into multiple planes of color and value. The Cubist approach intends to reveal any given subject from all sides at the same time. I employed my own version of Cubism early in the Interludes series. As my style has emerged, I have moved away from this method in favor of a more fluid treatment of the subject.

I had a good chuckle to myself over the client’s inclinations, as I had been reflecting on my cycle of artistic patterns. I am becoming increasingly aware that the seeds planted early on in my career continue to grow and feed each other. When I have learned what I need to from one particular style or series, I move on to the next and advance it until I am ready to move on again. Eventually, I return to the beginning again, renewing the cycle … sort of like a spiral that starts from a vague periphery and rotates itself toward the center, where it refines and defines itself. I will explain more in the next entry.

What It Is

I am in the process of revising my portolio, which contains not only images of my work, but supporting documentation such as a resume, biography and artist statement describing my work. This has been a frequent process for me in the last two years, as my paintings have evolved and the distinction of my work becomes more pronounced and intentional. With this emerging clarity comes the ability for me to better describe my work through words.

Earlier in my career, I was mostly influenced by Picasso and Cubism with some of my jazz pieces, so I was calling myself a Neo-Cubist. As I learned more about color, however, my influence shifted to the Impressionists (Monet and Pissarro come to mind). So, for the past year, I've been calling myself an Impressionist, but that didn't seem to be an accurate description for very long either. The Impressionists worked from nature, attempting to capture the effects of light. I realized my art does not reflect the aims of the Impressionists, as I mainly work in my studio, largely using my imagination and intuition to generate my compositions.

My paintings are narrative work based off perceptions of reality and recollections from my imagination. I distort the subject matter to fit within the dimensions of a canvas to tell my story. As I see it, my philosophy is most in line with what is called Expressionism. I am therefore calling my work Contemporary Expressionism, as I feel it most accurately describes what I do.