Mark H Webster Artist Statement
Like many artists, I began drawing and painting as a child. In high school I found I could capture a fairly good likeness of my friends in pencil. My parents supplied me with watercolor and oil paints to encourage my early efforts.
Life got in the way for 15 years and I stopped painting while I focused on my day job. But when my son was born I drew his portrait in pencil and it re-awakened my inner artist.
Since then I have established a reputation as a landscape painter, winning a number of awards and honors in Puget Sound area juried art shows. I am primarily self taught. Most of my learning has been trial and error although studying art books in the library, and touring local museums and galleries has given me many ideas.
I believe the struggle to paint from life lends honesty and character to my work. I love to capture the play of light and shadow over my subject in monotone. I then use the versatility of pastel and or oils to go beyond form into vibrant, complementary colors, creating paintings that, in the words of my collectors,”jump off the walls.”
Many of my artist friends find that the studio is the place to create art. Perhaps it is my love of the outdoors or just the chaos of my garage/studio, but I have found that I do my best work on location. I have stood painting for hours in very unfavorable locations, such as on the shoulder of the road above a high cliff on the Oregon coast highway in 20 knots of wind, or in a meadow up at Mt. Rainier in sweltering heat and clouds of mosquitoes.
Two weeks ago I hiked 7 miles up into the high alpine meadows (Sahale Arm) with 50 pounds of painting gear. I shivered under a space blanket all night under the stars. In the morning I painted the morning alpenglow on the North Cascades.
Painting on location in the city has turned out to be easier than I feared. An artist working on the sidewalk is so unusual most people walk by as if I were invisible, which suits me just fine.
Due to the relative shortness of our time on earth many of us want to savor what little beauty we find amongst the asphalt. This urge to slow down and provide time for reflection is what drives artists and photographers alike.
I have often thought of my painting backpack full of paints and a lightweight easel as a 300 year old camera with a 4 hour exposure time, and a six year learning curve. When I am out painting on location, hikers and tourists, often wearing cameras, will occasionally stop and admire my work.
They photograph my painting like it’s some kind of rare magic trick. They often lament their inability to draw. I never know what to say. Drawing can, and should, be taught like reading and writing, but the ability to paint collectable art is harder to explain…it may be a gift.
I sometimes go for long periods without selling any paintings at all…like years…which is why it’s important to have a day job. But I never stop painting. I stack them up in attic. Painting is an itch I have to scratch.
Life is short, Art is long.