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The Paintings of Bob Herdlein

Bob Herdlein's paintings have recently been featured in The Art Magazine.

In the artist's words:
One large element of my impulse to make art is a sense of feeling clueless. For me life seems unfathomable, complex, beyond understanding, mysterious, and not such a bad thing that it feels like all that. In the art I do, I have an opportunity to immerse myself in all that sense of complexity and let it guide me, somewhat. I would like to think I convey a glimpse of that sense of not-simple in my work.

I have a great time doing art, and for me the medium is not really the key. It's that sense of being actively creative and engaged that I love. In that regard, I've always felt little restrictions imposed by any medium I've worked in and little fear of not knowing the supposedly "correct" way to go about it. So happily I will blunder my way into any medium with little regard for technical convention. I do have a pretty fair knowledge of art history and my respect lies with the people and the work great artists have done. I love seeing and feeling great art, no matter the media. To me, it all comes from the same place.

As with many artists, I would think, I feel a sense of being impelled for any number of reasons to continue working. For one, and probably the most important, it simply feels too good to not do art. I know when I'm not working I feel as though there is a place in me that is telling me I should be. You know? There always is that sense of what's coming next? Great feeling knowing that there is no end to it; that it always feel like that. Can be rather frustrating, but a great feeling nonetheless. Feels to me to be a gift to have that feeling...to know what you want to be doing. 

Ideally, in my work I hope to create a sense of a presence. It seems to me that sense of presence I'm referring to is that which we would equate to the feeling of being with another person. I think that is a part of what really good "art" is, or can be. In any case, it's something I strive towards imparting.

I'm very interested in the role of the artist and an artist's role within the community. Over the years I've had issues and many questions in that regard that have caused me to leave art at various points, in the sense of not actively doing "art". But I seem to keep coming back. Over time I think I understand that art and the process of making art, is important for me and a necessary part of who I am. It also feels to me that I keep developing a view of how art/being an artist fits into my life as I evolve (hopefully) as a person.

Ideally, in my work I hope to create a sense of a presence. It seems to me that sense of presence I'm referring to is that which we would equate to the feeling of being with another person. I think that is a part of what really good "art" is, or can be. In any case, it's something I strive towards imparting.

Particular artistic influences / inspirations, if I should pick a few from so much great work, would include Prehistoric art, Joseph Beuys, outsider/bad art, Ornette Coleman, Cedell Davis, Constable, Titian, Caravaggio, Degas, Andy Kauffman, Mozart, Persian miniatures, Matthew Barney, my two kids, Matthew and Anna, and most recently, current Tokyo street fashion (which is quite astounding...more social sculpture than a fashion statement of some sort).

About the Technique:
Note on technique: All paintings are acrylic on canvas. The surface is highly worked and has a very weathered appearance. This results from a rather labor-intensive work process involving an electric sander, gel medium, Ajax, water, rubbing, and applying and removing many, many layers of paint. At the end of which a coat of gloss acrylic polyurethane is applied. End result is a very flat surface that resembles and feels somewhat like a glossy encaustic with considerable apparent depth.

As a result of the technique I use, the paintings gradually come to take shape. There is a very strong improvisational feel to doing this work. 

All the paintings are small, which is something I really like. I like the intimacy of the pieces and that they can be held like a book.

About the Artist:
Art has always been a core part of me all my life in one-way or another. I'm self-taught as an artist.

I've lived in New Hampshire in the United States for the last three years and before that Seattle. I've been actively exhibiting since 1985. I'm one of those people who like getting their work out there. I like that sense of engagement.

My exhibited work includes sculpture, installations, photography, painting, a project for PBS, and public art (projects were focused on and involved working with children.... underlying idea was art as a verb). All this was primarily in the Northwest of the US. My current work includes painting, assemblages, and photography. 

I've had around 45 gallery exhibitions including The Henry Gallery at The University of Washington, The Tacoma (Washington) Art Museum and The Bellevue (Washington) Art Museum. Work in collections throughout the United States. Gallery affiliations have included the Davidson Gallery-Seattle, Cliff Michel Gallery-Seattle, and the Jamison/Thomas Gallery-Portland, OR. I'm currently not gallery represented although interested.

Herdlein has an online gallery here and his pieces are for sale.


Oxide, Is That You?


St. Jerome


"Toots took the blanket and left, muttering that..."


Santa Maria Novella


Texaco


"Ecclesia Noworun Innocentium"


J and O and A


If You Cross the Sea . . . 2


Saladin