Jeffery Pugh

The famous religious painter Carl Bloch was said to have dipped his paintbrush in his heart. As an artist, I relate to that statement because painting for me is a way to turn myself inside out and share what is there on canvas. Sometimes I see things that are so painfully beautiful that I can find no adequate words to describe them. My art has become a spiritual language where I can express myself without speaking. And hopefully those who view my paintings will feel what I am trying to say with no words passing between us. I have found that it is through visual imagery that I can best reveal my passions.

As an artist I am more interested in painting my emotional reaction to a subject than in creating a photorealistic rendering of it; consequently my paintings lean more to impressionism than realism. I tend to work in an abbreviated style where the suggestion is more important than the completed statement, and where the parts or details are sacrificed for the good of the whole. I’ve learned that the less I give away in my paintings, the more people seem to read in them.  To me, there is more poetry in an image when not every detail is spelled out and the viewer is allowed to solve some of the mystery.

I love to capture the abstract patterns of light and shadow in the subject as, paradoxically, I find this creates a more realistic image when viewed from a short distance. I generally paint things that I am close to, both in distance and in feeling. I am not about depicting vast expanses of nature, but rather of close, intimate corners of personal spaces. Any subject is game for my brush as long as it is beautifully lit. In truth, light is always the subject I find most exciting, as anything it touches is enhanced in depth, dimension, vibrance, and beauty. This is the spiritual implication art has for me.

I consider it the greatest of privileges to be an artist–to notice the grandeur in small things around me, to celebrate them on paper or canvas, and to share my passion for life though my artwork. 

“Art has always dominated the direction of my life. I remember that when I was very young, I would go to my grandmothers and paint little watercolors with her as she painted. Even then, I remember learning the importance of seeing. This has just continued through my life and has helped me learn and grow. It has filtered the way that I view my surroundings. I no longer ignore the beauty of the landscape. It isn’t just dirt and trees and sky. It is a compound of colors and values and shapes.”

“I love the idea of ‘filters and abstractions’. It has been the catalyst for my work from the start. I need to explain the terms as I use them. A filter is any sort of separation from the source of the painting. That could be from painting en plein air (which would be one degree of separation) to photographing a site, manipulating it on the computer and printing it off on a napkin (at least three degrees of separation). Depending on how far removed you are from the source material will definitely influence how abstracted the work will become. Certainly we all have our own techniques and approaches that will abstract the final piece and we could abstract without the aid of filters, but having this understanding enhances the process.

“I realize that my work continues to evolve. It has to if I want to be an artist of any caliber. Sometimes it feels like it changes relatively slowly, but it has evolved. It has gone from a realistic representation to an abstraction of the inherent designs found in nature. I have found that by carefully choosing the filters I use, I am able to enhance those designs and push those abstractions even further.”

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