Stephen Bates - Artist Statement

Stephen Bates

In my art I am creating the impression of movement and much of my painting is inspired by music. My paintings are collages, using watercolor and acrylic paints. The collage technique I use employs cutting, usually with scissors, and on occasion mixed media. The collage technique allows me to set up a rhythm as I work, not unlike that of a jazz musician, improvising on stage. The twisting and turning of scissors as I work feels like playing music. I am a professional musician, I played clarinet in the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, DC for thirty six years. In my artwork, I have chosen to use musical ideas as a major force as I am painting. In particular I am layering shapes of cut pre-painted  paper to give the impression of harmonies.

When I start a project, I begin with a gesture or single shape to which I add another, and another, allowing the artwork to grow, allowing for improvisation to dictate the creation of the project. This results in a painting that is not rectangular. Also, I have been adding the third dimension so the paintings achieve a sculptural aspect.

I am influenced by the artwork of Kandinsky, Bonnard, and the music of Richard Strauss. The influence of Kandinsky has to do with his distribution of color. He balances paintings with groups of colors called color chords, again a musical image. Bonnard's color also suggests for me a musical effect. In the case of Richard Strauss, his orchestration is dense but brilliant with a sense of color. Thus I hear sound from Kandinsky and Bonnard and see color from the music of Strauss. This experience can be described as synaesthetic. Through my many years of art appreciation as a musician and as a painter, I have developed my ability to experience synaesthesia. Using this ability I give my paintings the effect of sound, and the sensation of movement.

I live with my wife Isabella in Manchester, MA

Contact: Tel. 978 526 1443
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©2012, Stephen Bates, All Rights Reserved