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About John Gordon

Biographical Sketch | Statement of Aims | Paintings


A Statement of My Aims as an Artist

By John M. Gordon
Green Bay, Wisconsin

My direction as an artist over the past 25 years has been to paint what I see as I see it, without the “aid” of graphic images, like photographs. As simple as this may sound, it is not simple in practice. To paint directly from life, and to do so truthfully, requires more than technical skill. It requires a commitment to the truth as presented to us by our own direct experience.

The obstacles to this direction are formidable. Aside from the inadequacies of our own technical skills, we must overcome the distractions of our private thoughts and physical sensations, our bad habits, our negative psychological tendencies, and our conflicting desires and emotions.

Almost as importantly, we must overcome the memories of the pictures we have seen throughout our lives, which impose themselves on our perceptual process and encourage us to paint in the style of other artists.

My main influence, since I started painting from life in 1975, has been Paul Cezanne, who first proposed the principle of direct-perception as a new direction in painting at the turn of the 20th Century. His theories were rejected by the first generation of painters to follow him, whom we now refer to as “modern”. They chose instead to embrace and mimic his painting style, which they used to move the art world in the direction of self-expression and abstraction, a direction from which we have not yet recovered.


John Gordon
Director, Gordon School of Art
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