My pictures originate in observation. I believe that truth and beauty are revealed to the artist and so my paintings are less the consequence of cerebral activity than the result of looking at the world around me.
In the past I would scrutinize the images I made for subconscious meaning. I believed that they contained symbols of internal content brought to consciousness through the act of painting. Lately, however, making paintings seems to be more a process of recognition. The perfectly functional proportions of a glass bottle, or the blue-black hue of a ripe plum simply amaze me with their beauty and I want to honor that.
My pursuit of landscape painting notwithstanding, it is human scale objects that interest me the most, particularly things that can be held in the hands. I am currently preoccupied with the forms and colors of fruits and flowers, though in the past I have been intrigued by less approachable things. When I look closely at an object, it will suggest associations with other items and on my still life table a composition will take shape. My still life "strategy" is to capture and define the initial attraction by using design, color and different forms of contrast.
Because I pursue an essentially "found" aesthetic, it is important that I work directly from life. I utilize a wet-into-wet oil painting technique that enables me to build the image in successive layers working from large shapes and design to increasing detail and color accuracy. Drawing is an essential component of the process and photographs are never employed as primary source material, though snapshots are sometimes used when things begin to wilt or rot. This working method allows me to closely examine the things that visually excite me and to acknowledge the originating spark of recognition.
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.