But if pressed, I would admit my most favorite works would be from other painters from the museum's permanent collection.
The art I like best is about feeling and mood. They are highly interpretive. And they're always surprising, you don't know ahead of time what the artist is going to focus on and what they're going to leave out.
Charles Burchfield, The Mysterious Bird, watercolor,
Delaware Art MuseumEdward Hopper and Charles Burchfield are two of my favorite artists, as long time readers of this blog know. Neither of them used photographs as sources for their work, preferring instead the dictates of their own eyes, memory, and emotions. As different as they are from each other in style, each engaged in an inner dialogue as they painted.
In the Burchfield above notice how the artist reserves almost all his darkest darks for moodier top half of the painting compared to the lighter and warmer foreground road. He makes a shift in feeling from the close space to the distance. As we travel through his painting we feel our mood change.
Below is the first painting I ever paid attention to when I was a teenager, Edward Hopper's fantasy about his painting studio on Cape Cod. At first glance a tableau of empty spaces, Hopper invests each surface with gradations of colors that weren't really there but that breathe life into each section of the painting. And I know from my residencies in the Hopper studio how extensively Hopper lied about the actual architecture of this corner of his painting room.
Edward Hopper, Rooms by the Sea, oil on canvas,
Yale University Art Gallery
Hopper and Burchfield looked out at their world but also turned their gaze inward upon themselves. Their resulting paintings look like nobody else yet speak to so many of us.
In my own studio, while my style is different than either of these two masters, I borrow from their way of selecting, interpreting
and inventing. I think this is the road that leads to an art that genuinely reflects how living feels to us in our time.