Saturday, October 23, 2010

At times there seem to be a million ideas worth painting. However, there are days when it's a challenge to have the drive, the strength, the inspiration to pull any ideas together. On these days I go to my studio, leaf through an art history book, and tell myself that I am part of this great tradition. An hour or two of learning from the masters is usually enough to recharge my artistic batteries.

At other times I crave a trip to a museum. Standing in front of a Rembrandt at about the distance he stood while painting makes the hair on the nape of my neck stand on end. I walk through the museum with my sketchbook, making thumbnail drawings of the paintings I like. I fill my pages with notes of all kinds - both words and pictures - about color, brush technique, paper, feelings, and my own observations. When I leave the museum, I'm excited and inspired and thinking productively about my own art.

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"I like Dean's work because he doesn't shout at me; neither does he put all his cards on the table at once. I've had one of his watercolors for three years, hanging where I can see it every day, and I don't get tired of it. There's always something I hadn't quite appreciated before. Dean doesn't paint an oak tree; he paints a portrait of a particular oak tree- or a particular plank of wood, or even a particular clump of grass. I like that. I have seen more interest and beauty in the commonplace since I've owned his paintings and I thank him for opening my eyes."

H. Lester Cooke
Curator of Painting
National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC