As an artist and a teacher, I now feel the need to devote myself to work entirely from life. It's a choice based on quality and it's an important decision to make my work as strong and non-derivative as possible. For commissions, this can be especially troublesome, but I want to create truly original works of art that have a feeling of life in them. I want to create art that is as close to the source of nature as possible; And as a teacher, to encourage my students to do the same.
As a society we are now overwhelmed by digital photography. For paintings, this is particularly hazardous because many viewer's only relation to great works of art is through a screen. I see certain benefits, but the downsides are numerous.
Imagine if we lived with only recordings of music and no live music. What are the benefits of a recording? Well, most prominently, we have a greater access to the art and an ease of access. One of the advantages that I see is being able to catalogue my own work. the images on my site are meant as a visual record, but they're definitely not meant to replace the actual painting or drawing. Then we can ask, what are the limitations? Is ease of access always a good thing?
For me, a huge part of making art is about making a memory and to have an experience while painting. For a portrait, it's about being with the person and sharing a conversation. If I'm painting en plein air, I will remember trekking up the mountain until I reach the point where I set up my easel. Maybe I meet someone along the way and they comment on my painting. All of that is what I love about painting. Another thing to remember is that these experiences may not always be pleasant. I have a friend who said to me one time, "In hindsight, things will either be fun or funny." I try to remember this when I'm experiencing something that is real, but not enjoyable.
When paintings get boiled down to a photo-realistic image, it becomes devoid of life. I often say that I'm very impressed with photo-realism as a trick and demonstration of pure technical ability. In the same way I would be impressed by someone who had memorized the dictionary; I'd say, "Wow, impressive." But would I ever want to do that myself? Absolutely not. What's the point of that?
As I turn 30 this year, I want real world experiences. To look at things through my own eyes and develop more of my own style. To listen to live music. To take a hike through a beautiful area. To play a sport, instead of watching it on tv. To be in the game, instead of on the sidelines. To ride my motorcycle and skateboard. To make a pilgrimage to a museum and stand fact-to-face with a painting, in the same spot the artist stood before nature. To be sweating outside, battling the wind and bugs in order to create a painting. That's what makes me happy.