I currently work in two distinctly different styles. One style, which has been called “Mid-century modern,” or “post-war contemporary” is a 21st Century reinterpretation of the “Bay Area Figurative Movement” of the 1950s and ‘60s in San Francisco and Berkeley. Mostly landscapes, these works are grounded in representation, then abstracted to distill form and color. Sometimes a painting will stay pretty representational; other times it will end up much more abstract. At some point in the process the painting takes over, and it goes where it wants to go.
The other style uses as a touchstone the Abstract Expression paintings of the 1950’s and ‘60s mainly in New York, larger non-objective abstract gestural works that strive to be graphic archetypes that can communicate across time and culture. Geoff’s interest in this format stems from his Princeton thesis on the nature of the creative process, and his correspondence with Joan Miro and meetings and correspondence with Salvador Dali that were input to that thesis.
Both styles are also meant to be pleasing to the eye in terms of subject and form and color, a goal that is by no means universal in the contemporary art scene.
For the Representational Abstraction landscapes, I typically work by doing a plein air study. Some of these eventually turn into finished pieces. Often, I create a larger version of the study in my studio.
Most start being quieter representational, but then each painting takes on a life of it’s own. I really have no idea where a painting will end up when I begin it, although I suppose I have some sort of dimly defined image in my mind. At some point, I’m not in charge any more – the painting takes over. Some works remain pretty representational; others get quite abstract. They gets worked and reworked until they looks ‘right,’ whatever that final form may turn out to be. I don’t work well in watercolor for that reason – to me, with watercolor you have to know pretty much where you want to end up before you start.
What I try to do in my paintings is to capture the essence of what is depicted, a distillation that I also strive to make pleasing to the eye in terms of form and color and texture. The paintings are thus ‘abstractions,’ but are also referential – almost always grounded in life, mostly in nature.
The concept for the mostly larger abstact expressionis pieces seems to come to me just before waking up. I;m not sure where they float up from, but the challenge is often to retain the idea when fully awake!