In today’s world we’re numbed by images that are reproduced exponentially; we look at screens, and photocopies, and magazines. We also observe real things in our daily routines landscapes, people, objects, animals and dismiss them without a second thought. How, then, do we connect with nature, find meaning in the small objects in our lives, and make sense of the movement and change in the world around us?
These five artists use direct observation to commune with their subject matter, respond to the passage of time, and harness the vigor of life. Each picture in the exhibition was created deliberately through observation. The artists share a commitment to working from life and immerse themselves in their subject matter. The resulting images are unique documents of that experience.
“Observational painting is a way for me to engage nature. You are immersed in the landscape and in time and with the passage of time the landscape changes. For me, this is an opportunity to search for moments that will allow me to connect the picture together and sort through abstract ideas I have about painting.”
“I paint from observation because of a need to know the world more carefully and closely. I choose things that I find some sort of interest or meaning in. Many of the things I select to paint are a part of my everyday life. I place the subject in the studio and sit with it and try to get to know it. I witness the changes that a thing may go through and capture the most interesting stages. Poet Mark Strand said, “It’s such a lucky accident having been born, that we are obliged to pay attention” and further on he states “Most of our experience is that of being a witness. We see and hear and smell other things. I think being alive is responding.” (From Creativity: the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) Susan Sontag takes it one step further; “To be a moral human being is to pay, certain kinds of attention.” My small paintings are my response to being alive.”
“For me, art is the process of translating the life of another living thing through my own experience of observation. Drawing from life is therefore a critical aspect of my creative process. I think of drawing as extracting, more than just markmaking. If I tried to extract life from a secondary source, it just wouldn’t work. I have to watch my subject in order to understand what it feels like to be my subject, then I endeavor to share that through markmaking. Drawing from life is about empathy.”
“I believe observational painting is a journey into the very essence of communing with what one is attempting to represent, where it may take untold hours of looking at a stilllife or figure to understand what one is painting and seeing. My practice revolves around painting from life the figure, the landscape, and stilllife.”
“Working from life allows you to immerse yourself in the experience of the painting. Not only are you observing the subject in its physical setting, you are also recording it through a passage of time. You get to know the subject you are working on and begin to see new things as the time passes. I predominantly work from the landscape. In that environment you are exposed to all of natures elements. The arrangement of objects and relationships are constantly changing as the sun and light is always moving. It is up to the artist to pick and choose certain key elements as they move in order to develop a stronger composition. There is something about being in the same light and the same environment as the subject you are painting. Nothing beats the true color and value shifts that you can see when working from life. It allows you to see the space in its natural state and for you to depict the space how you perceive it. If you submit yourself to the subject, it sparks a deeper feeling of meditation.”
CONTACT: Michael Cassidy firstname.lastname@example.org