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The Nature of Change in the Creation of a Painting

I suppose, as a painter, there are boundless ways of beginning a work. We all start with an intention of some sort. That is as varied as the painters yielding brush,knife,roller or spray can on a surface to create....well, in the end, a painting.

Back in my studies many years ago, the process of painting was presented in these 3 stages, or phases;Intent, Content, and Extent.


Intent is the first wild hare to catch....for some,an image is composed, planned and executed through specific and precise stages. The intent for the work is formed within the painter's stylizations ...plans are made, studies performed and palette colors , paint viscosities, and layered stages are prepared for (This really goes to content)This was a standard of regiment for painting for centuries, and is still practiced today by many brilliant painters.


For others, a freeform wrestling match with selective angels or demons is the order of intent. This business is rich in invited unpredictability; angst ,joyous and manic feats provide the energy and the process is less about the end than the path worked to arrive there. One does not so much prepare this intent as prepare for it.


Now, between these two poles of intent there are many, many variations...I have practiced several of these varied methodologies over my 40 years of working. As a teacher, i always emphasized to my students the importance of preparedness in the technical aspects of the selected medium and knowledge of the laws that govern your craft...either of the polar intents of approach and all that lie between require that the painter be able to answer both intuitive and analytical process skillfully. Know your medium! Know it so well that it enters your dreams. Know it to be a tool of benediction.










The photos above are a few from tens of thousands drawn from my years of walks around Europe and the United States....they are documents of the memory of places and events that form the foundation for my works. I've gathered many thousands of images and use them as "memory prompts" ,serving not as graphic imagery to copy, but as stimulants of specific memories that held important clues to the energy and memories held in the places visited. The places and regions visited over the years of Sauntering were selected for their importance in the history of human social and cultural layering through thousands of years of change. Im my paintings, i use a range of layering and subtractive processes that meld into a final image state. They are meant to form an evocative image that addresses the process of memory building and its eventual dissolution. My works are "about" that process.









I've added below a few common terms and definitions addressing "Content" in painting. I could add dozens more, and would encourage further reading on the points mentioned below, but for this blog post, these will serve.





The emotional or intellectual message of an artwork. – The expression, essential meaning, significance, or aesthetic value of a work of art. – Content refers to the sensory, subjective, psychological, or emotional properties we feel in a work of art.


Subject, form, and content have always been the three basic components of a work of art, and they are wed in a way that is inseparable.

In art and art criticism, form and content are considered distinct aspects of a work of art. The term form refers to the work's composition, techniques and media used, and how the elements of design are implemented. It mainly focuses on the physical aspects of the artwork, such as medium, color, value, space, etc., rather than on what it communicates.[1]Content, on the other hand, refers to a work's subject matter, i.e., its meaning.



Form and Content

Art is a combination of form and content.

Form is the physical manifestation of the artwork. It answers these types of questions:

  • what is it made out of (the medium)?

  • what techniques are used?

  • how were the design elements and principles used?

  • what is the style (abstract, impressionistic, etc)?

Content is the essence of the artwork. It answers these types of questions:

  • what is the subject/theme?

  • what is the context?

  • what is the meaning/intention?

  • why was this artwork created?


So, as we consider content based on the definitions above , it can be fairly stated that my works meld content and form ....one being evoked by the manipulation of the other, until the potential..and sometimes portential... dialogue is begun. That dialogue between the painting and the viewer, forms the EXTENT of the work. Extent is completely unique, organic, and situational...a colloquy between painting and viewer. Therein lies the "Art" of the thing.








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