Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inspiring Artist

Sorry for the long delay in posts.  I came down with the flu a couple of weeks ago and the recovery process has been taking forever (and if this post seems a little scattered you'll know why).  But I'm getting back to things and last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an "informal discussion" between the artist Henk Pander and art historian (as well as friend and my college professor) Roger Hull.  It was the last day of Henk Pander's exhibit at the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem, Oregon, and I'm so glad that I did not miss seeing the show.  You can see some of his work here and some photos of the gentlemen at the event on my friend Bonnie's blog (Henk Pander on our left, Roger Hull on our right and Henk's painting behind).  His paintings were gorgeous, surprising, and so large on some I felt like I could walk right into the scene.  Not kidding.  I would guess the larger ones were at least 15 feet wide by 10 feet tall.  I might be way off on that, but it gives you an idea.  I can't even imagine the logistics of painting that large.  Makes my largest painting feel like a postage stamp.

Roger started things rolling by asking Henk some questions.  Henk was more than generous sharing his thoughts about his work and process.  I wish I had been able to take more notes but alas I spent much of the time paranoid of having a coughing fit (mentioned I have been ill, right?) so it was all I could do to just listen.  I did jot down a couple of things though that struck me.  One was on the topic of his very large pieces.  I believe someone asked how he kept the momentum going on a piece so large and he mentioned having to forget about the subject and just treat it as a project.  As I often lose momentum in paintings that are taking too long to finish (like a few I have right now...) I related very well to this. 

The other note I made still is sinking in for me in relation to his work (and how to relate it to my own).  Several of the paintings in the show were of difficult subject matter in one way or another.  And he had an interesting way of painting that subject, rather indirectly I guess you could say.  He made a difficult scene beautiful I thought while often still being somewhat disturbing knowing the subject matter.  And the thing he said (and this is not a direct quote as I'm sure I missed something) was, "take the meaningless and give it meaning through making a work of art out of it."  Or something along those lines.  I rather liked that idea.  Propelling the barely noticed into the spotlight.

I love going to artist talks or talks about artists and I really need to get to more.  Not only do I learn so much about these other artists, I inevitably get insight or inspiration into my own work.

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