|I found myself creating my own reality, painting imagined rather than real landscapes, recreating long-forgotten images and vistas.
As I now look back on the body of work I created during those 30 years, I am stunned to see how much those paintings presaged what I do now, both in palette and in content. But what has changed for me are the materials, the textures, and the ensuing freedom that I have discovered as I have moved on.
I find myself continually going off in new directions. I have created a number of series, each of them inspired by a trip I’ve taken or an image that has moved me, a structure that speaks to me or maybe just an idea that keeps coming back to me. In every case, I have taken an idea and then both developed it and allowed the work itself to guide me.
For me, painting is, in the end, about paint: color, texture, the joy of putting it on and scraping it off. I believe the results are best served by keen and repeated viewing. I try to introduce elements that are hidden or apparent, that will encourage “reading” the paintings many times and constantly discovering something new. My painting is primarily about surface, and surface in turn is about feeling – it can be ambivalent. It gives the illusion of depth and reflection, of time and memory and complexity. One crucial element of ALL my work is the texture of the paintings, the materials I employ and the feeling they create.
To that end, I have found that encaustic – which is really a technique – best expresses for me what I want to project in my work. Wax is one of the earliest materials known to man; indeed, the early Egyptian paintings have endured to this day. Incidentally, even their deceased were treated with this wax, which resulted in the mummies we are able to see today, and which imbues them with a sense of both mystery and permanence. The combination of materials I sometimes use in my work – steel, wood, lead and copper – have an ever-changing patina and surface, whereas the wax, which is difficult to control and may lead to wonderful accidents, in the end counteracts the aging and metamorphosis of the rest of my materials.
Above all, I love the PROCESS of making a painting – revealing parts of myself that might be a mystery even to me. I love the smells, textures, endless decisions and accidents that come from the paint, the wax, and any other materials, that seem to be consistent with my purpose, my aesthetic. The making of art is a sensual endeavor, and all the better if it speaks to the viewer – to me that is the greatest barometer of success.”—John D. Greene