Painting with Oil
DaVinci in Northern Style
Along his journey, John studied the theories, methods and genius of key art and artists across history. From the cave paintings in Lascaux 20,000 years ago to the onset of manuscript illumination of the middle ages and the evolution of materials, techniques and the genius of the high Renaissance... John eagerly consumed as much as he could across the evolution of man and his drive to creative expression. This study would prove to have a broad and continuing impact on how John would evolve as an artist.
John's interest in the creative genius of people like Leonardo DaVinci and Albrecht Dürer strongly influenced his thinking and probing to find 'himself' in his art. Their scientific approach was very appealing. But it was the northern painters that attracted his emotional energy. These painters 'painted with light'! The vivid nature of this approach and their treatment of light and color through layering would occupy his painting, off and on, for many years.
It was this 'concept' that would linger with him and ultimately combine, ironically enough, with techniques from the 14th century as well to initiate a breakthrough of sorts. This merging of techniques provided renewed energy and interest in developing it into a style that would bring energy to his work...he calls it 'Northern Light'.
Around 2010 John came out of a period of little creative expression and started to apply oil paint to canvas again. He began to work with the subject of Lady Liberty and it was this that brought him to a moment of clarity. On one particular picture (right) he sought out different tools to use for line work rendering of the city-scape for the New York harbor sky line. He was able to obtain pens with oil paint fed into a nylon tip which would offer better control. This would add a different application process to his painting.
This process emphasized painting in a way that was based on line rather than the loose flow of blending color with a brush. Seeing this and realizing how line appealed to him, created a moment of clarity. His mind immediately traveled back to early line work while in school and to the 14th century and Albrecht Dürer, the master of the woodcut...the Leonardo of the North.
John's technical skill had always been the strongest with regard to line; pencil, pen & ink, etc. , but this skill rarely seemed to be transferable to the oil painting and the smooth transition of color. To him the 'skin' of the people in the paintings seems sort of flat, lacking vivid expression to bring the subject to life. By merging his years of work in blending pure color and light in the northern style with very distinctive line work reminiscent of woodcarving and engraving, caused him to think a little differently about how he painted. He now needed to apply this new way of thinking, of painting, on a portrait, to begin to work out a new application method that could bring this concept to life in his painting.