THOMAS W WEIL
ARTIST STATEMENT ON NON-FIGURATIVE WORKS
I have often found myself in the window seat of an airplane looking out the window at the landscape below and wondering what that would look like as a painting. Before Google Earth and MapQuest I would use a road map to navigate around cities. Depending on the geography of the city, the map could have some interesting geometric patterns. There was a temptation to color inside the city blocks just to see what it would look like. These are not uncommon experiences in and of themselves, but topographic maps can have the most interesting and complex shapes and patterns which most ordinary folks won't experience. Although limited, my time in the military provided access to many exotic and far away places. Combine air travel with topographic maps plus an artistic imagination and the result is a concept reflecting a series of my paintings.
The series is part of a different perspective. I may reference maps, aerial photography, and my own photographs. The viewpoint is primarily a bird's eye view, a perpendicular look at any given surface. First priority is given to shape, line and pattern, next is value then color. When I am painting from a map the color is purposely artificial, it is a response to the graphic representation of the map and the color is similar to looking at paint samples at a hardware store. Aerial photos influence me in a different direction. There is a more organic sensitivity to them and the colors are muted. I can imagine natural resources providing color cues. Iron is red, silver ranges from black to reflective, gold is yellow to white, green vegetation, blue sky reflected in bodies of water, and so on.
The references I use are merely a starting point for my work. I may adhere to accuracy or use the reference structure as a point of departure. I am looking at geographic places that I have been to, drove by, flown over or would like to visit someday. There is a personal investment at some point that attracts my soul and vision. Flying at 30,000 feet in a window seat looking out the window is an experience in perspective that is different from all but the last couple of previous generations. An examination of the earth’s surface reveals mostly organic form. Where cities emerge, either the organic terrain features disappear beneath the concrete, brick and asphalt geometry, or the undulating hills and valleys force compliance with the terrain.
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