Wolf Kahn on Painting Nature

March 19, 2020

“Chaos in nature is immediately challenging and forces a good artist to impose some type of order on his or her perception of a site. “

“People mistakenly think that art is about nature, or about an artist's feelings about nature. It is instead a path of enlightenment and pleasure, one of many paths, where nature and the artist's feelings are merely raw material.” 

quotes by Wolf Kahn

Wolf Kahn (October 4, 1927 - March 15, 2020) influenced many with his exuberant color and brushwork, showing us that the subject of the painting is an excuse to play and explore in paint. Painting, sculpting, artmaking is an act of abstraction, taking the world in front of us and translating it through the artist’s chosen medium. A subject cannot be copied without the influence of the artist’s experience and feelings, and their own method of seeing and organizing. 

Here are three artists taking on the same subject: water. Each of these artists describes their own visual interest, interpretation, and how they interact with the water they depict. Siri Beckman uses lines that weave and overlap to imply the movement of a current. Jessica Lee Ives paints patches of color in fluid shapes that show water’s reflective and transparent qualities. JT Gibson’s casting of colored glass mimics the depths of a translucent sea, with a surface that can read as either massive waves or tiny ripples. Water as a subject pushes them to think, react, and create in the way that is most meaningful to them. They are searching and creating, finding their own way to make sense of the world through making.

Siri Beckman, The Crossing, 66/100, wood engraving, 4.5x10"

Jessica Lee Ives, You Are Alive, oil on panel, 48x48"

J.T. Gibson, Green Mariner's Dream, kiln cast glass, 2.5x4.75x4.75"

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