Imagine painting a person. (or an apple or a tree.) You are able to look at the person as you paint, and whenever you get lost with your painting, you simply compare the actual person to your painting. You can see where you are trying to get. The person is there, where you can see the color, shapes, weight, etc. Even if you never perfectly capture the person's likeness, you keep painting and practicing, and you do get closer and closer each time. There are thousands of books out there about techniques for making your painting of the person look as much like the actual person as possible. Thousands of artists before you have painted people. You can take classes from other artists who paint people and learn ways to make your painting even more convincing. You can take a few photographs of the person, and use them once your model has tired and gone home. The destination is visible, the path is well-traveled.
The paintings I am obsessed by, where I am not painting a chair, a tree, a person, or some other recognizable object, do not have a clear destination. I do not start out knowing where I am going. I don't see a finished painting in my head before I start, nor do I look at something while I paint, to guide me. I am not traveling a well-worn path. Sure, there have been many other abstract expressionist painters before me. I am not trying to make paintings that look like theirs. I don't really know where I am going, nor do I understand how to get there. Not only do I find this kind of painting more challenging than a realistic or representational painting, but for me, there is a better relationship between this kind of painting and my own life.
If you had asked me what I thought I would be when I grew up, I would have said "a dancer," or maybe "a gymnast." I really can't remember what else I wanted to be when I was a child. If you had asked me where I thought I would live, I may have said, "South Dakota," or "Montana." Most of the things I imagined my life would be have not happened. My life has not taken a predictable, well-worn path. It has not had a clear destination. I have wandered. I have gone in unexpected directions. I have lived in several different states, one of which was an island. The only thing about my life that has become recognizable is change. I like the parallel between my crazy, unpredictable life and my crazy, unpredictable art. I have challenged myself with making paintings that have the serenity and tranquility that I crave as well as making paintings that have the drama of uncertainty.
|"Blue Portal." Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. ©kswenson2011|