Here we have a chance to take a closer look at the art that Gordon presented as well as seeing what he had to say about them.
I have been fortunate to travel numerous times to France as a part of Whitworth’s semester-long Art In France program. In 1992 I began plein air painting after being introduced to Jeffrey Hessing and Jim Ritchie in Vence, France. Since then, my work has been primarily painting, including painting in Vence at Jim Ritchie’s villa and later in Germany, and Italy.
Four of the last five summers were spent in Orvieto, Italy. Prior to this I painted in the south of France for a number of summers. Once I discover a place that is rich in visual experience and content, I find it important to continue to mine that space for material for paintings. Becoming more familiar with an area allows for a growth in understanding and observation.
After my first experience in Europe, I became attracted to places that combined landscape and cityscape with history. When seeking a painting location, the number one consideration is composition, but I am also looking for meaning–some sort of story-telling element/content element. Painting on location provides a front row seat to the subject. The painting experience is direct and influenced by all surroundings. One can feel connected to that specific place and express that experience in the painting. These plein air paintings are usually completed on location over a space of a few days.
Part of the plein air observation process is observing those living within each environment. Those Paintings with a figure include a particular environment and a person related to that environment. For instance, in one painting, my wife’s German friend, Simone, is explaining the location of Croatia to my wife using two spoons. Behind Simone is a well-known Munich cathedral and a German train station, two locations referenced in the conversation. Because of the pandemic, travel has not been possible, so I have been going through images I have from the last several years, looking for both rich visual experience and the potential for content in combining images. The next paintings will use manipulated and combined images from this storehouse of images.
The current paintings were completed during an ongoing sabbatical making use of preliminary work completed on location in Italy and Germany. The paintings are the result of personal experience and response to specific places including reference to history and those living in those environments. Most of the work was completed in the studio and involves reordering and reflection on past images to better express the response to place.
As part of the sabbatical proposal, the work benefits from manipulating images as part of the process. This includes altering basic elements–contrast, color temperature and intensity. Images, sometimes from different locations, are combined in many of the paintings to influence the composition of the final images and to express the intended meaning.
I have been experimenting with photo transfer and trying to understand why a photo in a painting–particularly of a person, has the ability to create tension and content. I have 5 paintings currently in the Art Spirit Gallery small works exhibit, two contain photo transfers. I have other unfinished paintings with photo transfers. I would like to include two similar portraits in the same painting, one painted and one photo transfer. The process I have been using is an acrylic transfer using photos and acrylic polymer.
All of the paintings included in this exhibit have been painted on canvases gifted to me by artist and mentor, Ben Moss. The canvases all came with some sort of surface preparation. Some were toned with a single color and others with textural brushstrokes in a variety of colors. In some the influence of this preliminary work was subtle while in others the preliminary brushstrokes and colors are evident in the finished paintings.
Thanks for joining us, and as a reminder, Gordon is represented by the Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. You can see more of his work on their webpage.