I love everything about painting. I love feeling the paint, seeing a rich color spread under my brush onto a surface, and the play between colors coming together. I love watching my idea take form until a painting finally says “it” and I am surprised and delighted every time. I love sharing my art and knowing that someone is moved by it.
I see no hierarchy among realism, abstraction, and non-objective painting styles. I see only the relationship of colors, shapes, surface, and line that either thrills or bores me. When these elements come together to communicate an artist’s intention to the viewer, to connect with someone, it is nothing short of wonderful.
Teaching, for me, is nothing more than sharing my experience with applying paint. And my experience has shown me that most of us are taught to spend too long learning how to paint before graduating to why we paint. Painting from an expressive idea allows us to evaluate our results, encourages exploration, and can lead to new possibilities. I believe that once you hone in on the "Why" of your painting, the "How" will naturally follow. As a teacher, it is my desire and joy to help artists find out what it is that they want to say and to best say it in paint, in their unique way.
The subjects that have inspired me to paint have changed many, many times in the course of my painting life. I originally gained recognition for my landscape paintings. Like many new watercolorists, I was excited by the medium’s ability to capture glowing light and subtle atmosphere, and the landscape is an endless source of material. However, I missed the expressive lushness of oil painting, so I started using watercolor as I do now, in a more direct, opaque way.
The freedom from the “thou shalt/shall not” of traditional watercolor opened up endless expressive possibilities and subjects to me. Today I work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, drawing, ink, and every combination thereof. My subjects may be my dogs, my paintbrushes, my wife, or the experience of gazing into a tidepool or a day fly fishing on a mountain stream. The common element is that my subjects are always something I care deeply about, something I am connected to emotionally. It may not always be evident to the viewer What it is I am painting, but it is pretty obvious that it is something I love!
I draw from a deep well of inspiration and admiration of many artists. I am inspired by Robert Motherwell for his freedom of mark and dedication to ideas, by Pierre Bonnard for his ability to surprise the viewer with the most familiar of subjects and for his gift with color, and by Richard Diebenkorn for fearless form and flat out beauty. The list goes on and on and includes many of my contemporaries and students as well.
- Skip Lawrence