Friday, March 25, 2011

Stained Glass and Painting

When I began painting I wanted to copy some of my idols like Richard Diebenkorn and Ben Shahn, but the problem was that their styles were very different. Diebenkorn's figurative work emphasized shape, while Shahn's (in many cases) line. How to reconcile these two opposite elements and make them work together in a compelling way has always been something of an artistic goal of mine.

A real breakthrough happened for me when I began dealing in stained glass restoration. Representing a large studio out of the midwest, I roamed the churches of the Baltimore-Washington region studying and cataloging the beautiful windows. It finally occurred to me that these windows had in themselves exactly what I was trying to do in my art. The lead lines combined with the shape of the glass to make a gorgeous work of art.

To some extent my work - especially my later cityscapes in oils - approximates this. The messiness of stained glass - the visual clutter, and the effort that such clutter requires of the viewer - all of that is something that I like and try to bring into my work lately.

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