Finding the place of our paintings within the world of art is perhaps a task better left to art historians. Our guess is that our paintings lie somewhere at the crossroads between Naturalism, Impressionism, and Realism. Surely, what we do is far from traditional Naturalism epitomized by pastel or water color drawings of flowers, fruit, and leaves, neatly arranged over a cursive script of the botanical name. Yet, we were pleased when a friend, who was a professor of forestry, was able to identify every tree in our paintings by genus and species.
Neither are we focused exclusively on capturing a moment of light, as true impressionists are. Claude Monet, whom we think of as the ultimate impressionist, showed the world that, under the right lighting conditions, even a train station is beautiful. If he were alive today he would surely be able to reveal the hidden beauty of a strip mall. Our appreciation of beauty is more confined to wild Nature. We were driving with Kiry’s grandfather, who is an engineer, past a vast landscape of rolling hills covered with flowers. The fields were also studded with giant wind turbines. Later, when we showed the pictures to Grandpa Frank he asked what happened to the beautiful windmills. He had assumed that Richard had taken pictures of the turbines although he had carefully directed the camera so as to avoid them.
From a distance our paintings may appear similar to Realism, but we strive to paint only with the level of detail necessary to capture the individual character of each subject rather than striving for photographic realism. It is at least clear that our work does not fit into Photorealism, since we paint with knives, creating a heavy texture, which is not very realistic at close range, but provides a three dimensional quality to the painting.
Frankly, we have less interest in discovering the particular genre of our art than we have in understanding its relationship to Nature. Years ago, at the opening of one of Richard’s art shows, someone asked him, while looking at his painting of an oak tree, “What is the relationship of your art to Nature?” Without hesitation, Richard replied “I was commissioned by the oak to paint its portrait.” Although they both laughed at this absurd image, there was something satisfying about it. It stayed in Richard’s mind long afterward. Even today, the idea of being commissioned by a tree, strikes both Kiry and Richard as an appropriately humble position for humans to assume toward Nature. The fantasy of being commissioned by a tree restores to the natural world a significance that is larger than art and even larger than humanity. In our view a successful painting is like a lens through which the viewers can learn to appreciate the beauty of a plant or animal for the first time or are reminded of the beauty they had known before.