Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breakfast
16 x 20 Oil on Linen

Like most artists I've always painted the way I wanted to paint, but have been uneasy explaining why I paint the way I do. The recent political season helped me clarify my philosophy of painting. As I considered my vote I asked myself "How does someone raised in a conservative religion come to live by a liberal philosophy?" Which led to "How can someone with a liberal philosophy paint in what most people would call a conservative style?" I grew up in a middle class Catholic/Labor Union family, the kind that voted for JFK and later Reagan. I've always loved the kindness, gentleness and humility, the "love God, love your neighbor" aspect of religion. It was a good fit with the "look out for the little guy" view of the labor unions. My interpretation of the Bible is closer to conservative socialism than it is to social conservatism. I love the core philosophy of Catholicism, it is a wonderful guide to living, but I've never been big on rules and rituals, I'd rather apply the lessons in my own way, thank you very much. I seem to have approached painting in the same way. Looking for a solid foundation to build on I sought out those who could teach me the basic concepts of painting. Beginning with light and shade, creating the illusion of three dimensional form on a two dimensional surface, moving on to anatomy to make that form more convincingly human, then on to space and atmosphere, color and composition, the laws of harmony and of dissonance, the power of abstraction. These are beautiful principles, they are a wonderful guide to painting, but I'm still wary of the constraints of rigidity and orthodoxy, I'd rather apply these lessons in my own way, thank you very much. So there you have it, one part conservative tempered by one part liberal, one part classical moderated by one part romantic, and always a healthy dose of curiosity.....

1 comment:

Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb said...

Wonderful writing, as always, Tom. The parallels between your social and religious philosophy and the way you approached painting are so well drawn. And I like the paintings, as usual.