Sheila Blake

I’ve been a painter most of my life.  The same things that thrilled me when I first started to paint thrill me now:  creating the illusions of space and light with paint.  Looking at paintings – really looking – has everything to do with the recognition that the artist held the brush and put on the paint.  No matter how refined or active the surface is – the extraordinary illusions of Dutch still life paintings or the force of Franz Kline’s brush stroke – there’s still the power of the artist that made those paintings.  Stand up close to a Van Gogh and you are transported to the moment that he put that paint on.  It’s the paint, the precise color, Cezanne’s brushstroke transforming paint into atmosphere that’s the miracle; his still lifes are symphonies for the eyes and the mind.

During my short years in art school I learned not only to paint but what the pursuit of being a painter was about.  My teachers are all the artists that I’ve loved.  Writing them all down would fill a book, but standing in front of the wonderful Bonnards at the Phillips Collection is one of my greatest pleasures. The way he structures his paintings in order to use color so freely – well, I’m beginning to absorb it.   I love Richard Diebenkorn’s surfaces and Roy Lichtenstein’s mind, de Kooning’s big landscape abstractions and Edward Hopper’s composition.

I believe that there are unexplored paths that began with these painters and every day I am faced with reconciling the contradictions of the abstract expressionists which were at the heart of my training and the great representational painters of the past and present. This is what I love and teach and dedicate my life to.

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