Artist Statement

July 13, 2016


I started painting in the middle of 2010, for very personal reasons. I had no thought of being an artist or selling anything. I needed a creative outlet that would complement the more deliberate, strategic thought process that for decades had dominated my way of engaging in the world. I had spent many years in organizational and journalistic worlds, and in my mid fifties needed to move into another dimension in order to keep growing.


I took to painting after a few lessons, and began to see what came to the page as an expression of whatever feelings were present in me at the time. My paintings come from that place or time where cognitive order is just starting to emerge, and are a composite of images and tendencies that have formed over the years. These are the visual equivalents of journal entries, snapshots of my mind at any given moment. I like to think that all of the paintings I have done have legitimacy as expressions of whatever is germinating inside me at the time. Some, of course, are much better than others.


Some days my emotions are dark, tangled and dense, while at others they are lighter, happier, or more serene. Sometimes things are ordered, with lines and borders, while at others they are messy and anarchic. When I look at them, I see a lot of faces and landscapes and patterns, but also some discomforting scrambles. I work quickly, very much in the moment, and do the paintings in one attempt. I rarely if ever go back to a painting to make improvements or changes. I have noticed that the process cuts through, or bypasses, more deliberate thought processes – something that is very exciting to me.


There is a history to all of this, of course. My mother had been part of the Greenwich Village art scene in New York City in the early 1950s, a seminal period in the history of American art. Although she taught art then and had her own shows, she never taught us how to draw or paint when we were children. But there were the art books, and the obvious influence of Picasso, Klee, and others in our home. For years I wanted to see if painting would work for me. It was an itch I had to scratch at some point, and was always there somewhere in the background. I feel much better about things now that I have responded to that urge.


For now I work in acrylic, on pads of canvas paper. With brushes, paper towels, palette knives, and a very handy putty knife.


— John Richardson


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