Betsy Podlach, sensuous figurative abstract expressionism
What type of painter am I?
I am a figurative painter who paints according to certain traditions – the creation of space (vs. mimicking of space) on a flat picture plane, the use of color and space to create light (vs. mimicking of light), using the principals of abstraction to paint solid forms, compose an entire image (the whole painting), incorporate lines and curves and color and my own light coming from within the painting.
What type of painter am I (put another way)?
I am an American painter who considers the Italian Venetians and the American abstract expressionist painters my mentors – they are the painters whose paintings I most love, and wanted to learn from.
I of course consider Leonardo Di Vinci and Michelangelo indispensable to my attempts to create form regarding the human body.
The two painters I align myself with the most are Titian and Jackson Pollock.
Both use the picture plane and abstraction and space, light, movement and form to communicate a physicality built entirely on the principals of painting, in the “classical” sense of a flat plane and lines, color, shape, space and light applied to that flat surface to create magic – light, space, form, emotion, force, movement, the physical and the spiritual.
What is my style?
A figurative version of abstract expressionism.
Many abstract expressionists from the NY school in the 1950s (I studied with these painters and survived them, such as Nicholas Carone, Mercedes Matter, and others). I spent many years painting in Italy. I went back and forth between the figure and “pure” abstraction, the landscape and “pure” abstraction. Nicholas Carone did so, in a way that incorporated the essence in a contemporary way of the great Italian masters. Dekooning did this with his landscapes and his women. Pollock did this with his heads, animals and his more “pure” symphonic landscape abstractions. Pollock grew up in Wyoming – the America of large open spaces. I lived in Wyoming for 9 months and witnessed how the wide open spaces is an aspect of the abstract expressionists.
Other artists who are/were biggest influences: Bonnard, Matisse, Cezanne, Rouault and Monet. 6-8 months for 8 years I lived and painted in Paris.
I spent time in Munich, Germany and have always aligned myself with certain German painters from the early 1900s, pre WWI, the Blue Ryder group, including Kandinsky and Marc.
As to contemporary art and contemporary life – I don’t think one can be a true artist if their work is not contemporary, or not something that comes out of one’s present time. I don’t believe one is fully alive without absorbing the essence of their own time – politically, generationally and with regard to where it lies in the history of art. I love many contemporary artists, many of whom are my friends. I don’t include them as influences, because we are all simultaneously seeking to speak in the same era, rather than learning from each other at this point in our careers.
I am influenced a great deal by contemporary news and politics (however hidden – I seek to create images that are of my time, but will outlive my time, and to show humanity as a continuum vs. a static thing. Art can speak from the artist to the viewer in a unique way. It can communicate things that nothing else can and this is what I seek to say, what only art can say: love, truth, deep human experience, connection, association, juxtaposition, color, light, beauty – all without words. It shares something so human so personal and so universal. It gives HOPE. It says nobody is alone, nothing is forsaken, we are here, there is more, time is not the total ruler of everything and so much more.
So in contemporary life it is fashion design, nature, animals, the news, the feelings, the experiences, the goings on, as well as art that influences me.
What would I like the world to know about me:
I believe that we are here, alive, to be ourselves, to gain wisdom, to give love, to not miss a moment of life if we can help it, that suffering is a given, but meaning is built into life. I LOVE life, I love being alive. I love nature, animals, people, shapes, colors, music, dance, Shakespeare, great writing, sex, the human body, biology, poetry, cars, dogs, the ocean.
I LOVE to paint – it isn’t always easy, but I love doing it so much.