Over time it has become clear to me that truth and beauty are revealed the artist, not created by him. As such, painting from direct observation is an essential element of my artmaking. I paint to understand what I see. That fact limits my subject matter to things in the real world that I can touch and see.
Still-life imagery has been my primary focus for many years. These paintings show a variety of found objects singly or together on my still-life table. The objects are curated for their color and form as well as their potential to formally combine with other items. My goal is to capture and amplify the ephemeral beauty of ordinary things.
I have always practiced Landscape painting in tandem with the Still Life. The landscape acts as relief from the close scrutiny and exacting painting process the Still-Life work requires. While I continue to explore the Still Life, my Landscape activity has recently come to the fore. Living in the country as I do, it has begun to seem a little strange to walk through beautiful surroundings into a studio to work.
When creating landscape images, I follow a traditional path. The process begins with directly observed plein-air paintings. These two- to four-hour studies are intended to capture the light and atmospheric effects of a momentary place in time and can vary from large brushwork notations to carefully rendered color studies. I sometimes add additional layers on-site or in the studio to see if the study would be a viable candidate for a larger studio piece. A promising study is chosen as the foundation for a larger, more “finished” painting completed in the studio. In the studio paintings I am able to modulate color, value, mark-making and scale to create a more convincing sense of place while preserving the energy of the initial plein-air work. This process echoes the methods employed by the early Impressionists whose efforts were similarly grounded in direct experience.
Malcolm Christhilf was born in Baltimore, MD. He earned a Bachelor of Science at Towson State University in Towson, Maryland and he attended Tamarind Institute's Printer Fellow Program in Albuquerque, New Mexico to earn a printer's certificate. He completed his Master of Art and Master of Fine Arts degrees at the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently a Professor of Art at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where he teaches Two-Dimensional Design, Color, and all levels of Drawing and Painting.