My Artist’s Statement, Annotated

I nearly made the mistake of writing an extremely long-winded post about putting together a new artist’s statement. Then I realized that it had somehow become an obsession and it was going nowhere; the more I wrote, the harder it became to understand.

You will be pleased to learn that I scrapped that idea and instead I will just put my artist’s statement here together with some notes that describe how I got to this point. I hope it makes for a better read and will help with writing one of your own. My previous article provides more guidance on structure and content.

A photograph of a typewriter ribbon with the words "Stories Matter" spelled out on the paper.


The breakthrough moment of writing this version of my artist’s statement occurred when I selected three of my favorite paintings and wrote a few paragraphs on why I had created each one. That, together with an in-depth review of my painting history and motivation, caused things to fall into place; I realized that stories matter.


My Artist’s Statement

Each of my paintings has a short story woven into the fabric, often deep beneath the surface [1]. Sometimes I know that story before I start work, but sometimes I only understand it when the painting is well underway [2].

All my paintings are built on simple, abstract ideas [3] which are used to create designs that consider the picture as a unified whole [4]. I frequently modify reality or allow it to break down into abstraction in places [5].

I prefer to paint without sentimentality but even so, the act of painting always causes an emotional response which finds its way into my work [6].



[1] I’ve gone through many phases over the last twenty years, and this wasn’t always the case. For the first seven years of painting full time, I painted mostly portraits of dogs, and I didn’t have an artistic agenda. When I first started painting plein air painting, I painted more in a documentary style, recording things I saw. The desire to relate my art to stories came about much later in my career.

[2] I have often found that I’ve been motivated to paint something before knowing why. When that happens, I just get on with the process and let the story fill in as I go.

[3] In my book, I wrote at length about the concept of an abstract idea underlying my work. I learned this from artist Gregg Kreutz’s book “Problem Solving for Oil Painters” which I consider to be essential reading for any beginning painter.

[4] I first learned about this from the classic Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” which I read and digested long before I started painting.

[5] I am not a hyper-realist painter. I often use painterly realism in conjunction with abstraction to manipulate the viewer into focusing on the important parts of an image. I went backwards and forwards with the terms I used here before deciding to keep this part as simple as possible.

[6] One of the things I find hardest to understand about my artwork, especially my portraiture, is the way that other people can often see an emotional content of which I am unaware. When I am immersed in a painting, pictures play in my head just as they do when I’m reading, and I form all sorts of abstract connections between what I see there and what I paint. However, I am adamant that I am not a sentimental painter.


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