Ones to Watch February 2017
Five standout artists to keep your eye on
“This body of work is inspired by the profound quietude of nature. In my wanderings throughout Maine, a sense of timelessness, a stillness, seems ever-present in the landscape whether in the mountains, in the wilderness, or along the coast. My response to the magnificence of these settings is to interpret what is before me using pencil, pen, brush, and paint.
“My love of drawing and line work has been an essential element in the evolution of these paintings. The sensitivity of a drawing, the quality of the line—light, dark, curved, or meandering—all intrigue me. In each painting, as the drawing starts, the interplay of line color and white space begins to take place. As I paint, the constantly shifting balance of these forms leads me deeper into the composition. At the same time, I am reliving the walk, the location of the subject matter, inviting that experience to guide the painting to completion. In this sense, each painting becomes a contemplation on nature. This series of paintings represents an intersection of realism and abstraction, where the viewer will have a glimpse of a realistic form or outline interwoven with abstract areas.”
“Working with a laptop and an Intuos tablet and stylus, I use four software programs to facilitate my abstracts. I start with a shape or a color, and then I build on it by painting with pixels on a digital canvas rather than with traditional materials. I started making my pieces this way 20 years ago because I could carry my “studio,” by which I mean my laptop, with me to our family business, an auto repair shop.
“I never start with a blank canvas. Instead, I use something with colors or forms that I find appealing as a base to begin a new piece. I clone repeatedly to build unexpected shapes and combinations. While working on a piece, a title usually suggests itself to me early on in the process, and then I tend to digitally expand on a section or area of the painting, change the color, flip it upside down, or distort the image. I try not to control the direction of the work by thinking about the traditional rules or concerns of composition. I don’t force it. I just let the piece lead me.”
“One of the few disciplines I have in my life is painting. Getting to work on time is just as important now as it was when I was teaching or driving boats. I have to get to the easel early. Sometimes the easel is in the studio, and sometimes it’s out on the coast, on the waterfront, or in a field. Once I’m working, it’s a lot easier to find inspiration. And I am very fortunate to be inspired regularly by my corner of Maine.
“I’m often trying to put down on canvas an idea that I’ve already envisioned. I can see what I want to paint in my mind, but I don’t know how exactly to collapse the distance between what I’m making and what I’ve imagined. Sometimes I surprise myself with something I never saw coming. A brushstroke or a color might just lead to a new idea. I want people to see beauty in my paintings, whether in the image of a sliver of the coast or that of a working boat.
“I try not to exaggerate reality too much, but instead I find a balance between reality and self-expression. Everything I know about painting has come from that struggle between inspiration and creation, and the attempt to resolve these two processes.”
“At heart I am a hunter-gatherer. I collect what moves me, what thrills me. I do this in every facet of my life. What I paint, and how, is no exception. I am always alert to form, structure, light, pattern, movement, and history. I am on a quest for places that beckon me as a conduit in the exploration of this gestalt. It is the investigation of all this en plein air, meaning oil painting outside on location, that makes my work so alive.”
“My images have a painterly fluidity these days. While I am still a documentarian, interested in essence, in the soul of a place, my brushstrokes draw lyrically with paint. The mark floats over the color blocks and forms, integrating, defining, or levitating. These marks and color fields move rhythmically like music, reconfiguring as they are viewed over time. They were painted with the spontaneity that plein air painting affords, a certain out-of-body experience, becoming one with the environment, painting in response to it. Yet simultaneously there is all that accrued knowledge gathered over a lifetime that syncopates in that spontaneous state.
“I grew up summering on Deer Isle amidst many esteemed artists—Karl Schrag, Leonard Baskin, Sally Amster, David Lund, Phoebe Hellman, and Stephen Pace—to name a few, and I was married to the great artist Jon Imber. I have studied their work and many others, synthesizing what is personally provocative. I am becoming the painter I always wanted to be.”
Douglas H. Caves Sr.
“There is so much about New England that inspires and informs my paintings. As a roamer of city and village streets and a hiker of rural trails, I find that there is no end to new subject matter in Maine. It’s in the endlessly changing land and the weather. It’s in the craggy lyricism of the landscape, the jagged, demanding coast. It’s in the white Colonial and Victorian houses that line the narrow village streets and the grand old barns and farmhouses along the rural roads, those lonely outposts that suggest hope and offer a defense against the relentless passage of time.
“My intention as an artist is to bring light, color, and texture into an engaging composition on the canvas, to create an image that draws you in and gives you a reason to pause from the business of everyday life. In doing so I am searching for an essence, the core at the heart of this place called New England. I find it’s not the scenes that define it so much as the way the light and atmosphere changes each setting and the way the environment wears and tears at the seams. I’m interested in how the environment has shaped our life in New England over time.”