Anders, since 1968, has had many paint studios- dedicated
places, his special spaces where colorful dream
journeys embark and a unique language of color, shape,
line, marks, texture, intention and exploration is spoken.
Anders is speaker, listener, entertainer, entertainee,
message, messenger, all of time and of this moment.
In this personal place Anders is encouraged to be Anders.
Few people, over five decades, have visited his studios.
Each time he walks into the studios he enters a realm of
private meditation and internal conversation and he is never
alone. The irony is Anders is always aware of the viewer.
To this point, Anders spends a great deal of time looking
at the works in progress.
Each night, he selects six works that are nearing completion
to be displayed in his bedroom. They are the last things he
sees before he goes to sleep and they are the first things he
sees upon awakening. One benefit of this process is that it
gives him an idea of what the first art moves will be that day.
Anders realizes that art is a two-way street. He feels
the meaning is in the viewer’s mind and he should not influence
the viewer with his thoughts of what the painting means.
When he displays his paintings online he generally writes
a couple of sentences, poems, that open up thought and
discussion much like a cosmic tour guide leading followers
by suggesting transcendent questions.
Over the decades, works have accumulated into groupings that
become series, then join together into families which become,
most importantly, his body of work. In the end, everything
becomes one journey and process: reflections on a life lived
and moments experienced. Anders is a graduate of the
“School of 50,000 Mistakes” whose motto is (again with irony)
there are no mistakes, only opportunities.
At any given time Anders has at least 50 pieces in progress. If one
includes his acrylics on watercolor paper the potential jumps into
the hundreds. There are several themes at work in his paintings:
we are not alone, we are all related, chance is god-like,
homo sapiens are a stage not an end, sorrow is universal,
it takes littles to have bigs, evolution migrates, we cannot see
everything we hear, does everything need an answer?
All are expressed one gesture at a time, one decision, one choice
after another. Time is an umpire that can oversee, if needed, a
painting for 30 years. After all, a finished painting is only
a door opening to other paintings. One of Anders’ goals is that
his last work, through patience and persistence, will be his best work.
There is always music in his studio. There are moments when a
song is playing on the radio as it was three decades ago.
And everything is the same. Time becomes an illusion.
Anders feels the same as he did back then, the same voice
is in his head, his intentions and desires are the same:
use up all the paint, leave no acrylics to waste. A drop of
paint, squeezed out onto recycled coffee can lids he uses
as palettes, can last an hour being distributed across
dozens of paintings. He captures shower water warming up
in a bucket to use with his water-based acrylic paints.
His process is an environ-mental statement unto itself.
Anders listens to radio so music flows unexpectedly.
If he were the disk jockey he would be choosing from
Weather Report, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Band,
Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Santana, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder,
Phil Collins, Joni Mitchell, Jean Sibelius, Edvard Grieg,
Maurice Ravel, Keith Jarrett, Alphonse Mouzon, Chick Corea,
Joe Zawinul, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette,
Blood Sweat and Tears… jazz, fusion, rock, blues, classical…
anything with a heartbeat and moving feet, walking – running –
dancing. Sounds outside the studio are music to Anders:
company for another color being added as thin washes
or floods and color landslides or tiny stars in musical skies.
When Anders works on masonite or canvas it is imperative that the
surface is primed, especially smooth/slick masonite.
Priming days are celebrated in the studio. More is more. More is more
experience, more choices, more considerations, more discoveries,
more insights, more and more… From a technical point one of Anders’
goals is to create works that will have a long half-life. To do this
the paint must stick to the surface, hence the need for strong bonding
primers applied in multiple cross-coats to create desired working
surfaces with tooth/grip. Priming is an equal opportunity moment.
Photos days are another cause for celebration. All of Anders’ work is
photographed after a sealing session – there are usually three to four
sealing sessions per painting. Anders looks at each painting as an
animated short that offers the twists and turns each piece goes through
in the pursuit of finding itself. The photos of works in progress
also allow Anders to look at them from a different perspective,
On the computer he can see the work in 2d, small or zoom in to study
details. There is distance both physically and emotionally from the work,
The next time paintings above have a sealing session they will
be signed, signed but not done. The signature indicates Anders has
settled on an orientation: vertical, horizontal, top and bottom.
And The Beat Goes On
A year has passed and each of the dreams have taken on new
directions with the addition of elements, colors, forms and
mystery. Anders does not need to understand these dreams, just
as he doesn’t need to understand all the happenstances and natural
sciences that surround him. When works reach this stage of
development painting can become more about removing paint
than adding paint. Looking at the work, contemplation,
is a key to unleashing these two-dimensional dreams.
Much of the photography and film-making Anders does is about
his giving in to elements and subjects around him, to be aware of
what is happening and gratefully accept what is given him as he
works within these hyper-realities. Outside of his studios, he
takes photos of living creatures and landscapes and feels no need
to paint living creatures and landscapes. Inside the studios, he
controls and enjoys creating dreams he has never seen before.
Part of Anders’ creative process is to identify what needs to be saved –
meaning no longer to be worked on, and which areas could benefit from
change. Sealing / isolation days insure that this is possible.
Anders uses washes on top of washes. These are vulnerable due to
the amount of water that is involved. Sealing / isolation days insure,
enrich and add an actual physical depth that captures and reflects light.
For the past 20 years Anders has used a semi-gloss for
working / isolation seals and, ultimately, finish coats.
There comes a time that a work is taken off the in-progress
pile and stacked with other “completed pieces.” Reality is if
a work leaves the “completed pieces,” for some reason,
Anders would lightly sand the finish coat, with 1000
grit sandpaper, take the opportunity to add or alter elements
and apply the final finish coat. Anders works with “Time” and
“Time” provides pathways that lead to somewhere. And then it is
time to take photos, again, of the works and their details.
The painting(s) – everything is done in groups – will cure for
a couple of weeks outdoors, out of the sun and then rejoin the
art stacks: signed, sealed and delivered.
Where does it all come from? A college art professor once told Anders
that “Anders” became “Anders” faster because he had not taken art classes.
Since the early 1970s, Anders has read, enjoyed and studied art books.
These included modern art, primitive art, Asian, Latin, surrealism, art
history, how to, theory, design, architecture, calligraphy, landscapes,
abstracts, realism and… At any given time Anders has at least three
art books checked out from public libraries.
Time passing is an integral part of Anders’ process. Some of these
boards have been in progress for thirty years. There is no need
to rush. There is a spirit that comes out of this process, a timeless
spirit. There are paintings that challenge Anders, but there are no
paintings that he has given up on. He works until there is a moment
when a dream takes flight and Anders jumps aboard.
Series after Series
Painters of major influence have been Salvador Dali, Turner, Van Gogh,
Mark Tobey, Max Ernst, Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Paul Klee,
Larry Rivers, Marc Chagall, Winslow Homer, Miró, Pablo Picasso, Matta,
René Magritte, Rufino Tamayo, Francis Bacon, Frank Lloyd Wright
and many more. Anders also learned from his friends and contemporaries
as well as current events and geologic history.
The first painting Anders sold was a board that he had built
up in a 3D shape with plaster and then used to clean his
brushes on. Anders paintings, on average 100 works a year,
have shared time and space with photography, music, video,
graphic design, writing and related story telling.
Today, 2018, Anders moves with the curiosity of an explorer
and the confident agility of a master. This is what he
does. Refining. Reflecting. Rationalizing. Realizing.
Anders thinks of himself as a traveler on the third stone
from the sun, a simple soul in a complex world and a direct
descendant of cave painters and drummers. But aren’t we all?
Anders prefers to paint standing up or low to the ground. Each day
he comes to the workbench, there is only one issue on hand: where
does today begin? What board, canvas or watercolor to start with? What
colors to open or squeeze? Does he start with a brush, knife, or
sponge? This is life in the art studio. It is a good life.
©2018 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.