In a recent interview, artist Chuck Rosenthal was asked what he wanted the viewer to know about a painting. His wonderful, almost poetic answer is:
The artist replied, “I like to show the paint to the viewer with brushwork in some areas of the painting, but like all artists and particularly the most successful ones, I want the viewer to be able to participate in the work. I want the viewer to feel that if it’s a landscape, it’s a place where he wants to be. If the artwork is a still life, it should have some ineffable familiarity to the viewer, and create a feeling that ‘this is right, I know this.'”
The artist continued with, “That is the universal impingement of a really good piece of artwork. I want the viewer to be able to escape for a moment into my painted world that has, in the viewer’s eyes, a rightness, a balance of placement and light values that is in agreement with the viewer’s own internal universe.”
For an example, take a look at Rosenthal’s “Houses on the Marshland, a 16×20 oil painting (it’s on his website www.chuckrosenthalfineart.com). The houses are in the background, but the eye of the viewer is drawn into the painting by the fabulously bright sunlight that colors the grasses and wetlands in the foreground, making them various shades of yellow and orange, with some contrasting dark blue shadows.
The artist paints actual places, rather than things he makes up in his mind, but really the location in the painting was only there at one point in time. The sun changes, the light changes. Because it is now on canvas, it is captured perpetually, a single moment in time. Now it can also be captured in the mind of the viewer.
In viewing some of the artist’s still life paintings, one perceives what he meant when he said he wanted to convey “ineffable familiarity to the viewer” and have the viewer think, “this is right, I know this.” His painting “Grapes and Nectarine” fulfills the artist’s goal. It has been sold at this time, so someone enjoys the communication in his or her living room or dining room or perhaps in a den.
The textures in the painting appear so real that you think you could reach out and touch them – but they are just paint – just paint applied by an expert. The grapes look so cool and smooth against the thick, rough cloth on which they rest.
You are invited to look at these paintings anew, keeping in mind what the artist wrote about his intention in painting these subjects. Contribute to the paintings yourself. Enjoy.