When you can do something well, it can be difficult to set
it aside or modify that skill for the good of your art. John Evans is an
American artist who admits to battling the tendency to overwork his oil
paintings, sliding between depiction and evocation in a sometimes very
|Light Early by John Evans, 38 x 50, oil on canvas.
This content has been adapted from an article by John A.
"My natural instinct is to draw and describe--it's something
that I'm good at. I remember reading how Edward Hopper mistrusted his facility
to draw and paint and went to great lengths to avoid being facile. My paintings
seem to oscillate back and forth between a natural appearance of reality and
abstraction," says Evans.
Studying his oil paintings, that struggle is obvious. There are
visual traces of the many changes that take place on Evans' surfaces--edges of
forms scrubbed away, colors that have been removed, areas sanded down with a
belt-sander. What helped Evans "cure" this malady was manipulating photos on
the computer--blowing them up until they were just abstract pixels or cropping
and color-filtering them. He could boil down the images that attracted him to
their essences and eliminate a lot of unnecessary detail.
|Woman with Striped Bag by John Evans,
30 x 15, oil on canvas.
||Porch by John Evans,
20 x 16, oil on canvas.
He's also made peace with his process. Going through as many
as 30 stages of completion for a work can happen but it is a rarity now,
whereas before it tended to be the rule that Evans' work lived by. What has
allowed this growth was Evans' commitment to evaluating paintings to see if he
could do anything to make them better. If not, he knows they are done.
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