My neighbor and fellow abstract painter Matthew Langley and I have always agreed that process is important–that how an abstract painter paints is as revealing as what he or she paints.
intensely tactile materiality for abstract painting, Langley and I both
embraced the work of painters like Terry Winters, Brice Marden, Susan
Rothenberg, Bill Jensen, Elizabeth Murray, and Jake Berthot. I think
Langley, who is from DC, would also include Color Field Painting on his
list of important influences. While I was picking up a few of my
paintings from his studio the other day, we discussed the unfinished
painting that was sitting on his easel.
[Image above: Matthew Langley’s studio.]
Langley works with the grid, taping off sections, building up layers of color, scribing lines into the thick paint to further define the grid, and completing the painting with a thin coat of matte white. The thick, colorful underpainting peeks through.
His use of knives also reminded me that painting techniques go in and out of fashion. We talked about the historic replacement of the brush with the palette knife, and how its use was once considered avant-garde, then became the go-to technique of Sunday painters, and is now considered too kitschy to indulge. Or, I suggested to a skeptical Langley, maybe not. Could it be time to revisit kitschy palette knife painting?