While recently reading Art in America, I discovered painter, Tom Uttech, whose work I absolutely love. He seems to maintain a relationship with the "art world" while not selling his soul to be a part of it.
He lives on sixty acres of land in rural Wisconsin with his family and paints in his barn. Growing up in Wisconsin in the 1940's and 50's he was surrounded by the natural environment, which is now the inspiration for his paintings. As a child he knew he wanted to grow up and be an artist and not surprisingly, enrolled in art school in the 1960's. However he came to realize that the art school institution was only conditioning him to go into a world that was not his own. He found that as a young and impressionable artist, he was simply regurgitating what everyone else was doing. After leaving art school, he was drawn to the opposite extreme and went into a wilderness-induced solitude. He had a spiritual awakening, becoming reacquainted with his true self, and soon began to bring to life his new realizations with oil paint. I love the way he uses color and really portrays a sense of liveliness within isolated views of the natural environment. The ironic part of Uttech's story is that by escaping the art world, he became a part of it. Although he is reviewed in contemporary art forums such as Art in America, he can work without the pressures of conforming to the "nonconformity" of the art world.
I'm most inspired by Tom Uttech's views on painting: "Paintings can be a way to show how wonderful things can be." I try to embrace this idea in my own paintings by always portraying a positive perspective. Although I recognize there are many things wrong with our world, I prefer to focus on how good things are and can be. I also appreciate Uttech's work because I simply love color and the beauty of nature. Uttech sums up painting beautifully: "Do I enjoy painting? I don't know. I don't think it's fun, but not doing it would be awful. When you're called to do something, it's irrelevant if it's fun. Like breathing. It's better than the alternative, isn't it? Not-painting is a lot like choking."
Read a wonderful interview with Uttech here.