My plan today was to continue my blog about my recent vacation in France.
But as so often happens, life made other plans…
A follower of mine and an artist I follow on Instagram, Rob Larson ( rob_larson_artist ) posted a daily series of images recently, with this text underneath: ‘I’m looking at..’. There then followed images of work by Bonnard, Joan Mitchell, Richard Diebenkorn, Brian Hollister, Jenny Nelson, myself and a painter by the name of Mitchell Johnson ( mitchell_johnson_artist ). Well, I immediately loved his work. As I suspected, he is a big fan of Bonnard, Morandi, surprisingly Corot (worth investigating!) and Josef Albers.
What struck me was his bold use of color combined with strong composition. He calls upon his intuitive sense of color use to balance and invigorate his works. I wrote to him in the hope of developing a dialogue with an artist who like myself is not concerned with current art trends or movements, but focuses on his love and fascination for the visual phenomenon of color, composition and color relationships. AND, also managing to stay in touch with the atmosphere and mood of the scene he depicts. As Matisse said: “The most important aspect of painting is not the imitation of nature, but the transformation of perception into an enduring image.”
Listening to a podcast of Mitchell being interviewed on ‘Savvy Painter’ he spoke often of the deep effect the teachings of Josef Albers had on his development. Albers was a German artist best known for his theories on color, specifically color relationships, vibrations and the effects of visual perception. I absorbed his teachings at my first Art Academy in Memphis Tennessee in 1971. I was 19 years old and wanted to just paint, I didn’t have much patience for the theory of color, but I did the exercises and was quite amazed by the results. His famous and highly influential book: ‘Interaction of Color’ was originally published in 1963. The statement that had the most effect on me was the following: ‘Repeated experiments with adjacent colors will show that any ground subtracts its own hue from the colors which it carries and therefore influences.” And although I dutifully finished the course I would have no idea how much I had actually digested or how insidiously these ideas would slowly seep into my fascination with color that emerged much later in my career.