Monthly Archives: November 2010

Reflecting Light: Acrylic on wood. 42″x48″ 2010

An art instructor once told me he rejected my thinking because I don’t paint background to foreground. I usually paint the light in last, the white clouds and dabs of light piercing through the foliage. While the criticism gave me pause to contemplate the organic process of my painting style, it only served to redouble my impulse to capture light at the end of the process. While the forest is a three-dimensional entity with an undisputed foreground, middle ground and background (ever changing, based on our position in relation to it), my paintings take place on a two dimensional panel, flattening one perspective to fit the flat area, and thus creating a limited impression, a specific viewpoint. I think it was Claude Monet who said that when he painted a sunset, he didn’t paint “a cloud”, but he painted pink in just such a size and shape compared to this patch of blue next to it. Our eye does the rest. With paint, our eye creates the illusion of depth, when really the positive and negative space exist on the exact same plane. In fact, the negative space often (usually) encroaches upon and overlaps the positive space, defining the edge in what I consider a necessary relationship. I wouldn’t do it differently. Taking the criticism of the instructor to heart would mean that anything “further back” in the painting could never be touched again without obliterating everything else further “forward” and starting the painting over again. It’s a harsh sort of fundamentalism that I would never adopt in my own painting. That interplay of foreground overlapping background in one spot, and background overlapping foreground in another, gives the work a certain feel that is an intrinsic characteristic of my paintings.