It is interesting to observe the effect of my paintings on the various people who wander into my little gallery workshop on the island of Huahine, or other venues in which I present my work to the public. I love seeing and hearing their reactions as they interact with my work. Sometimes people ask me what “style” I paint in, wondering if it is “impressionism”. Ultimately I can’t think of a “style” that would perfectly describe my work. Often I hear comments about a painting looking “like a photograph”. This makes me laugh, because I know what the photograph looked like, and it isn’t even close–but I reassure them that I will take it as the compliment they intended!! Some people come in and with humility say “I don’t know anything about painting, but I LIKE this”. They seem to be apologizing for liking paintings that represent reality as they see and feel it, as if somehow they have been taught to think “art” has to be some other thing.
The topic of “style” has always seemed to me like made-up labels that are stuck on artists by other people seeking to put things in neat little boxes. However, if I had to say which “-ism” might best describe my oil paintings it might be this one :
Magical realism in its modern sense first appeared in 1955, the German art critic Franz Roh first used the phrase in 1925, to refer to a painterly style also known as Neue Sachlichkeit (the New Objectivity). Magical realist art does not often include overtly fantastic or magical content, but rather looks at the mundane through a hyper-realistic and often mysterious lens. In visual art it brings extreme realism to the depiction of mundane subject matter, revealing an “interior” mystery, rather than imposing external, overtly magical features onto this everyday reality. It employs various techniques that endow all things with a deeper meaning and reveal mysteries, representing before our eyes–in an intuitive way –the interior figure of the exterior world.
Magical realism faithfully portrays the exterior of an object, and in doing so the spirit, or magic, of the object reveals itself. The aim is not to add magical elements to a realistic painting, but to pursue a radically faithful rendering of reality; the “magic” effect on the viewer comes from the intensity of that effort: Quoting the painter John Stuart Ingle : “I don’t want to make arbitrary changes in what I see to paint the picture, I want to paint what is given. The whole idea is to take something that’s given and explore that reality as intensely as I can.”
Since I was a child I have had a deep love for paintings, whether in museums or galleries, at friend’s houses, or in books and media. The field of Art is infinitely varied and ripe with so much potential. I find it thrilling to explore this world. There are so many artists whose work I admire deeply–Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, John La Farge, Gustave Caillebotte, Fantin Latour, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Lautrec, Manet, Pissaro, Vuillard, Bonnard, Winslow Homer, M.J. Heade, Francois Marius Granet, Mondrian, Odilon Redon, Jacques Majorelle–the list goes on and on!
I have always been eager to feast visually on paintings in a wide variety of styles. Growing up, I read and studied about the lives of many painters, especially the ones whose work I most admired. I learned a lot about the history of Art from the Western world view. I experimented with different mediums and learned as much as I could about them, seeking information from the Handbook of Artist’s Materials and Techniques and older classic sources that I unearthed. Though I had the good fortune to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, my art education unfolded through my thirst for knowledge, and my motivation to educate myself.
Most importantly I learned the discipline of work. I adhere to the old adage about making your first 5000 mistakes so you can begin to correct them. If you aren’t DO-ing, how can you evolve? I believe that as an artist (just as any human!) we never stop growing. I hope to have a long healthy life which I can use to celebrate the growth of my abilities in the visual arts. It is the thing I have always planned to do with my “one wild and precious life”–I am following my “Bliss”!
Over the years I have noticed that paintings tend to paint themselves, and that I have some control but not complete control. So I am learning to let painting work through me, in collaboration—and relaxing into the process of creating–allowing it to “become”, even when it doesn’t turn out quite like what I had in mind! Life is never boring down here on this little rock in the Pacific, dancing with my muse… I look forward to your visit!