Copying the landscape or rendering precisely the arrangement of objects in a still life set before me, even though what is before me may move me with its beauty and, indeed, has moved me to paint it, is not what I am trying to do with my painting. For me, copying the world is best done with photography or super-realism. But I have found, after spending too many years trying to apprehend that beauty by rendering the objects as I see them with my eyes, that the emotional response experienced in viewing can be lost when it arrives at the canvas.
On one hand, here is the landscape, moving me to respond to it, taking my breath away, on the other hand, here is the painting now on canvas. For all intents it is the same image and yet lacking, not taking my breath away. Another artist would have understood this problem immediately but it took me some time to understand that what I am called to do is not paint the landscape but to paint the feeling it gives me and yet, because I love realism, to keep it real.
Some will call this the artist’s “interpretation”, a term I am uncomfortable with. To me, interpretation implies a disconnect from the very thing I am struggling to depict. So I do not interpret my landscapes and still lifes, rather I use their inherent structure and, using color and brushwork, overlay my response.
A better way to think of my approach is this: The beauty I experience when viewing something is the human part of that thing, it is something experienced inwardly and, though the thing may be beautiful in its own right, the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder….and so I continue my work to paint realistically the beauty I experience.
As obvious as this may seem, it must be remembered when painting realism. I can paint the object, yes, but I must also remember to paint what I feel about it or, better yet, paint it in such a way that my emotional response will be can be found and experienced by the viewer of the finished piece. This is accomplished through the composition, color, brushwork, and finish. It is that subtle thing called art.
As for “style”, if a style emerges from this then so be it. There is certainly no effort to create a style artificially.