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|Rainbow Lake, Azusa
|Clearing and Trees,
|Walkway at the
|Interior of Ruined Church,
San Juan Capistrano
Los Angeles River
Since making the shift from abstract to representational painting, I've been fascinated by the process of finding out what what my art is all about.
Some of my interests are purely physical--for example, lush foliage and dappled light are things I crave so much that they represent a kind of sustenance for me.
I feel my images also often have something deeper to say, although I don't approach a painting as a way to illustrate a theme. I'm just struck by something I see, and try to convey whatever that is. Often I don't really understand why the scene struck me until I get into the business of trying to depict it.
Sometimes I don't even know I'm interested in a theme until after I've done several paintings that deal with it, and I can see a pattern emerging. I can be startled by the patterns. For example, after I had done an abandoned mansion in the California Delta, an abandoned boat there, and then an abandoned store, it began to appear that I had a fascination with various forms of death and decay.
Some later work shifted my assessment of what I was dealing with, and I began to see my interest as being more in qualities of character or spirit that live on.
As of this writing, it's beginning to look like the more underlying interest may be questions of afterlife. "Waiting at the Train Station" and "Train at the Station" both seem to be in this vein, as do a number of others.
One thing that I know is important to me is a sense of transcendence. But I tend to find this as an aspect of the everyday, rather than looking for some sort of separate or exotic world apart. I relate very strongly to the way the painters of the Dutch Renaissance didn't need figures or tales from classical mythology to inspire them--ordinary things found around the home worked just fine.
Possibly it's my Dutch side speaking when I pass up big dramatic mountains and seacoasts for scenes that are closer to home. For example, one of my favorite paintings to date is a residential street in Azusa just down the road from me. It's so ordinary it could be just about anywhere in Southern California, yet it still has something very special about it.
Maybe in the end it doesn't matter whether I'm fumbling my way toward images of the transcendent in the sense of heaven and the afterlife, or just sharing glimpses of what's worth noticing in everyday life. Either way, I think it provides a kind of visual nurturance.
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Technical note: Some people wonder where the signature is on my paintings. I use a stylized, squared-off version of my initials, "rww." I started doing this in my abstracts, where a big name scrawled across the surface would tend to ruin the effect, and I didn't see any reason to change it for representational work. My signature is never hugely prominent, because I don't think it ought to be, but you can always find it if you're willing to look. (You could think of it as sort of a "Where's Waldo?" exercise.)
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© COPYRIGHT 2004 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.