In my art practice, color field painting eventually evolved from an exploration of styles and techniques in both oils and acrylics. The abstract paintings I came to create are a cumulative incorporation of lessons learned in preliminary work such as shown below.
Being primarily self taught I taught myself well by studying the great masters from the Renaissance through to contemporary art. It was not hard to appreciate the scuptures of Michelangelo, the brushwork of Turner, Monet and Van Gogh, the colors and compositions of Henri Matisse, Gauguin's still-lifes, the originality of Pablo Picasso, Modigiliani's figures, the flatness of Milton Avery's images, the density of Richard Diebenkorn's paintings....the list goes on!
My first public exhibition was at the Prince George Public Art Gallery in British Columbia where I exhibited a series of highly realistic acrylic paintings of local decay in the Canadian north. The derelict buildings surrounded by snow represented my concern with light and extreme contrast in the expression of worldly impermanence. During this period I gained proficiency in the meticulous technique required to create high realism but eventually felt the attraction of a freer creative expression.
I began painting the human figure in oils. I experimented with various styles and techniques culminating in the early eighties with a curvilinear juxtaposition of visual elements involving the human figure. Then all reference to representational objects vanished when in 1984 I became interested in the work of the New York School of painters of the '40sand '50s. Clearly I saw the unlimited possibilities and interactive potential of pure abstract painting. Formalist abstraction represented for me a kind of positive visual liberty that utilized all the traditional elements and principles of art but was yet somehow free of them. Challenged by what was already accomplished in formalist abstract painting, I set about trying to find my own voice in this genre.
The early color field painting below reflects the skills learned in earlier work such as drawing, composition, color and an over-all unity I have always strived for in my visual experiments. The critic, Clement Greenberg, refers to this as the 'hard-won unity' of a painting.