I thought it would be intriguing to ask painters this simple yet complex question. This query comes with no ground rules—it’s up to each individual artist to find their own approach and direction.
This project will be an ongoing exploration … let’s see where it takes us.
What is Painting?
Featuring Chris D. Smith
Painting comprises a space that words alone can not fill. From the prehistoric cave paintings in France to Monet’s haystacks or Cy Twombly’s chalkboard paintings, painting has been used to document or communicate an act, a place, a person, an emotion or an idea. Its power is unique, irreplicable in any other medium.
Wayne Thiebaud is known for painting images of cakes, candies and ice cream among other subject matter. His paintings encompass so much more human experience than just an image of something that would satisfy the palate. The way Thiebaud applied paint and the way he used color created a vibrancy that would almost pop off the surface, in effect triggering the senses of smell and taste of sweetness and richness in the observer. Thiebaud’s compositions of pigmented marks on surface can elicit memories of enjoying such confections with friends or family members during difficult, celebratory, simple or benign moments, occasions of unique human experience translated through brush on canvas.
Painting is a never ending conversation between the painting and the viewer. In my own work, I use relationships between abstract organic and geometric forms to visually communicate issues of balance, symmetry and illusions of weight and tension. The relationships I use between the gestural mark and hard edged line, the negative opaque space and active populated space, the smooth surface and rough, worked surface are all used as visual metaphors to abstractly and visually illustrate experiences I have in life. While I work, I keep the viewer in mind and understand, in the end, an open dialogue will be created between the viewer and the painting.
Painting is a visual theory created by the artist and completed or interpreted differently by each individual who views it. Regardless of the artist’s specific intentions, the viewer participates in the conversation and adds his or her own experience to the interaction. Painting is and should be a never ending conversation between the viewer and the painting.
Chris D. Smith, Untitled IM38, acrylic, charcoal and oil on canvas, 40″ by 36″, 2015
Chris D. Smith is an artist who lives and works in Chicago. Born in Aurora, IL as the youngest son of three, he was raised in a middle class family that celebrated their Puerto Rican culture and traditions. Smith received a BS in Operations Management and Information Systems from the College of Business at Northern Illinois University (1998), a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006) and a MA, summa cum laude, and the award of Distinguished Graduate Student from Eastern Illinois University (2009). Former Gallery Director of Linda Warren Projects in Chicago, Smith has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at such venues as Tarble Arts Center, Charleston, IL, Walnut Ink Gallery, Michigan City, IN, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY, Illinois State Museum, Chicago, IL, Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL, Packer Schopf Gallery, Chicago, IL, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO and The Ohio State University at Lima, Lima, OH.
The What Is Painting? Project – More Featured Artists