Classical-Realism and Contemporary Realism are my art forms; Oil Painting in the artistic fellowship of the Old Masters on wood panel or stretched canvas is my art medium.
Creating a painting is a visual editorial process. How I edit my paintings is a personal, internal, and now somewhat intuitive event after so many years practicing my craft. How I practice the craft of oil painting has become my personal style and it is as much a part of my being as is my personality and the qualities of my character.
While I appreciate and am firmly grounded in the practices, methodology, and techniques of the Old Masters of the Flemish and Venetian Schools of oil painting (and I include the French Academy painters here too), I do not practice an absolute seven-step process, or even a nine-step process for that matter each and every time I create a new work of art. I am however, a firm believer in the philosophy of classic oil painting, and learning and practicing the fundamentals of oil painting beginning with panel or canvas preparation, drawing, under-painting, color layers, finish work, and varnishing. I do not ignore the fundamentals as I practice my craft of oil painting, but I may truncate or "edit" them as I create my art works.
For me personally, as an oil painter and artist, I am first an editor of light! I do not just draw what I see and then just fill it in with color with my paints. Rather, I interpret what I see though the language of shape (light-shape, shadow-shape), tonal value (that is the range of, or gradation of tones ranging between the lightest whites without detail to the darkest blacks without detail) creating the dynamic range of the subject in my picture, and edges (sharp edges, soft edges, and lost edges). The fourth element of an oil painting is color. Color (in its’ fundamental forms of temperature, hue, and saturation) is the ‘frosting on the cake’ so to speak, color over under-painting, bringing a new life to the subject of the painting, a resurrection if you will allow; and all this while never forgetting good composition and design.
I am an editor of brush strokes. Brush strokes are like fingerprints; they are individual, personal, and unique to each painter. Brush stroke too have qualities of form, texture, shape, value, direction, density, and counterpoint among other qualities. At times there seems to be a kind of mystical communication between myself, my subject, the vision I have for the completed painting, and the direction and weight of my hand and the movement of the brush when applying paint to my canvas. Again, I interpret what I see through my brush strokes---communicating the characteristics and the qualities of my subjects to the viewer of the painting using brush stokes as the means of communication---the language of brush strokes. This “process” is random, deliberate and planned, and automatic all at the same time. It is the ultimate of hand-to-eye coordination experienced when I am in the “zone.”
I am an editor of visual concept; did I mention composition and design. I do not paint everything that I see. I do not paint every object that is in my field of view. Nor do I paint every detail of the objects within my field of view. Rather, I interpret what I see using the language of Selective Focus (foreground, middle ground, and background), Spatial Relationship (use of negative space), and Light Path (artistic clues directing the viewers eye through the painting) to tell and complete my visual story and message. (I might add that because all good art has a message, or a story, that all good art is fundamentally narrative!) At its best, the editorial process creates a harmony between the techniques used to crate the painting and the subject matter of the painting that transcends both and speaks a language of beauty that hold the viewer transfixed, returning again and again to pier deep within the painting, as if by some magical energy, to understand its story and to learn its secrets, moving the viewer emotionally as well as intellectually. That is good art at its very best!
In essence, because of and through the editorial process, all painting is abstract! This is a fact that is difficult to grasp perhaps and even more difficult to accept (a painting is not a photographic snapshot recording what was before the cameras’ lens) even within the genera of photorealism. The editorial process as practiced by the artist directly affects the depth of artistic quality of a painting and the relevance (timelessness) of its meaning (its story) making it a significant work of art historically, or not! And, yet another fact: As artists the less personal and the more universal our motive becomes in the creative process the more compelling and sublime our visual story becomes. These are the fundamental differences I think between just a painting and a great painting; it is the universal truth that is found in our best works of art and it is the reason that compels us to paint and create art in the first place. It is not just the process of painting that makes a painting art, but rather the journey of the mind of the artist communicated through the work that transforms a painting into something more than just a nice picture!