For me, painting is both a process of creative expression and a form of historical narrative, reflecting something about life at this unique point in time.
I paint mostly with oils, sometimes with other materials worked into the mix. This often includes fragments of photography, which are cut from my original photos and embedded within the painted surface.
A key part of the process is experimentation. I enjoy testing new ideas, and work with several paintings at once – toggling back and forth between canvases. The process is a combination of experimentation and a branching-outward from the most successful ones, exploring variations and searching for ways to make them better.
This involves a balance between ideas that are interesting and ones that create a compelling image. Often the two are joined together, but not always. Sometimes a great image will turn up few leads into others, and sometimes a modest image will expand into a larger body of more successful work.
I’m especially interested in the ideas of contemporary realism and impressionism, and how visual cues translate within the mind–that a bunch of dots will seem like a photographic image if seen from a distance, and a collage of images can make sense as a larger visual concept.
While painting I try to look closely at the subject, and also what is actually appearing on the canvas. It’s surprisingly easy to lose focus of one or the other.
What I’m looking for is an image that expresses the visual presence of the subject, and also is clearly a painting- an abstracted representation of an object, person, or place that says something about how that subject feels.
Painting is my life’s work, and I take it very seriously. It’s also a lof of fun. I hope the completed pictures will be as enjoyable to live with as they are to paint.
Alan G. McNiel has worked as an independent artist for over 30 years.
Recent solo exhibitions include Hockaday Art Museum, Clymer Museum of Art, and Paris Gibson Square
Museum of Art. His paintings are in numerous public and private collections, including University of Washington Medical Center, University of Montana School of Law, North Idaho College, and Washington State Percent-for-Art.