01 Thick paint

FOR the last few years for at least once a month I browsed the internet for articles about Thick Paint or Painting with Thick Paint finding no entries to aid me in my pursuit of painting with a fully loaded brush. Although intitially discouraged, I now take it as encouragement to write about my experience of the last twelve years wrestling with the maddening, yet exhilarating, prospect of highly textured oil paint.

I first became interested in the brushwork of LaConte Stewart at a retrospective in Salt Lake City in 1988. My interest was solidified later that year in a show of Van Gogh’s work at the Metropolitan in New York City. For me the thick strokes of paint struck a deep chord and I knew I would have to discover the mysteries of this painting method. I certainly do not disparage thinner forms of painting. My wife, Debra Teare, is a trompe l’oeil painter and thick paint would destroy the effect she is trying to accomplish. Nor do I find any virtue in simply applying huge globs of paint. It has to make sense and work in the overall context of the painting, and above all, ring true to one’s inner motivations and vision. It is simply one approach amid a myriad of approaches. But for me it is the only path that truly satisfies.

Over the course of my twelve year apprenticeship I occasionally became discouraged and lapsed into a thinner mode of painting akin to the Hudson River school. I found some success with that technique. I love paintings in that style but for me it never seemed an authentic expression of my personality. Yet painting with loaded brushes with abbreviated strokes seemed like walking a tight rope. It was exhilarating but seemed to invite disaster more than success. Yet I persisted, due mostly to some obsession I can’t quite articulate, and finally developed a modicum of competency. I was having more successes than failures and the frustrations were replaced by a steady successions of breakthroughs. Those breakthroughs continue as I am just at the beginnings of a journey which has turned out to be, after a long season of struggle, highly satisfying.

If you find these observations interesting and if they help you connect in a more satisfying manner with a style that is often ill-explained I hope you will join the conversation and feel free to share your successes and comments.

Brad Teare © 2009

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Updated: 8th December 2023
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