Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Artist Statement, part II
In my previous post, I wrote a bit about revising my artist statement and promised to follow through by sharing it. First, though, I need to back up a bit and explain how I came to be doing this at all. I am no artist statement fan- as I said, I have read too many that are pretentious and incomprehensible. And, I have read many that are, well, just boring- probably far more in that category- statements that didn't make me want to turn my head or click my mouse with breathless anticipation or at least curiosity about what this work might look like. So because of that and my "the work speaks for itself" philosophy, I never invested any time or energy in writing an artist statement.
Recently I contacted Alyson Stanfield with a marketing question. She asked me for my artist statement and noted that she could not find it on my web site. Hmmm-well, of course not. I sent her what I had thrown together the last time somebody asked for one, with a note saying it could probably stand to be "tightened up" a bit. Right. In the course of responding to my original question, Alyson generously offered some advice about how I might go about doing that ( I highly recommend her book). One of her suggestions was to go back to it each day at the same time and look for new ways to improve it. Doing that gave me the chance to think about what I really wanted to say- or not say- about my work and to weigh the amount of attention paid to different components like technique, influences and my overall aesthetic. The other and more dramatic thing I realized was that I could not have written this two years ago or perhaps even a year ago. I still don't know that having an artist statement makes one bit of difference to marketing or selling your work, and it does feel a bit like too much navel gazing. But, it can be a powerful exercise in gaining clarity- and for that reason alone, its invaluable.
Between Sunday and today, I edited it again and actually shortened it considerably. Who knows-maybe I'll get it down to one word! Here are the "before" and "after" versions. I let my husband read both versions-he's a pretty good judge of whether something goes too far on the "woo-woo" meter. He liked the second, later version best, and the word(s) "woo-woo" did not cross his lips, for whatever that's worth. I wanted the words to read the way my work looks, so that reading and then looking would be a seamless experience. Did I do that?
In my work, I am concerned primarily with light and atmosphere, as well as mood. My paintings create a sense of quiet dignity in the landscape, evoking an inner standstill which allows a moment of reflection for the viewer. Using Renaissance techniques to apply veils of transparent color, combined with modern pigments, I produce a luminous glow in my work. I am most influenced by late 19th century tonalist landscape painters, but I incorporate a modern sensibility into my work through spare design and choice of color.
I look for the extraordinary in the intimate, ordinary landscape - the moment when light and atmosphere create a bridge between outward movement and inner standstill, allowing a moment of reflection. A luminous glow, produced by using Renaissance techniques to apply veils of transparent color, is combined with a modern sensibility in design and color. I ask the viewer to look, and having looked, to linger.