Merriam-Webster’s Full Definition of realism
1: concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary
2a : a doctrine that universals exist outside the mind; specifically : the conception that an abstract term names an independent and unitary reality
b : a theory that objects of sense perception or cognition exist independently of the mind — compare nominalism
3: the theory or practice of fidelity in art and literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization
Back when I was in school, the abstract expressionists, modern artists from
the 40s and 50s, were heralded by the professors as the pinnacle of artistic
expression. I joined in. The professor would commence with classical drawing
methods teaching the students to draw using a real object, a model or a
still life, but gradually encourage a more personal means of expression so
that one’s inner self could be released. This led to abstraction. All the
abstract principles, the elements of design, i.e. line, value, color, shape
etc. were encouraged and taught. The actual draftsmanship (the ability to
draw and thereby depict a figure or an object accurately as it was in life)
was put on the wayside in favor of a more emotional and inner depiction.
Five or 10 years down the road with the hope and genuine effort to make a
living as an artist, I was still busy attempting to do better work as an
artist. I don’t recall reading this or having any outside influence, but one
day it hit me as a revelation that a real world existed quite apart from my
view or interpretation. Merriam-Webster’s 2a : “a doctrine that universals
exist outside the mind”; was something I had always believed. I needed to
honor the subject by depicting it as a real thing to itself, not a thing
subject to my imagination. Meantime I was using abstract tools: line, color,
value, shape, etc. when I painted an object. I can’t help with all of my
abstract tools to interpret an object according to the way I see it (my
I was helping a friend clean out a garage when I saw two tricycles, probably
from 50s, hanging from the rafters. I took them home. My wife wanted to
throw them in the junk pile and even followed through once, but for me there
was something compelling about the trikes. I let them lay around the yard
and our grandchildren played with them. One of them got frozen in the mud
last fall. I took photographs of it as it was buried at various levels as
the snow got deeper, melted and got deeper again. Before the snow was
totally melted I accomplished this painting.
I rarely can express why I am visually drawn to an object, a human figure or a landscape. It is not normally because of classic beauty. I’ve gotten in trouble by looking at a human specimen in this way. In the past and every so often I’ve tried to verbally express what moves me visually, but the only way I can express my appreciation is abstractly on a flat piece of paper or canvas. Meantime I want to honor my topic by keeping my drawing as close to reality as I see it and as my ability allows.
I could attempt to explain what this painting is about. There is something
kind of forlorn… and well… figure it out for yourselves. As I’ve explained,
it’s a visual expression.
I’m calling it “Lost Memories”.