After 35 years as an academic and art teacher, I find myself reflecting more and more upon author Henry Miller’s proclamation, “Paint as you like and die happy” and trumpeter Miles Davis’ statement “Never play anything straight.”

While I have great respect for artists who work with great seriousness and passion, I feel that my work is somewhat about de-mystifying the business a little and challenging some the hoary clichés that have grown up around art-making.

I am in awe of those who possess the illustrative skills to make accurate images. However, try as I might, I can’t get mine to turn out “right.” I suppose this has to do with that as much as I desire to create an image with a reference, I’m probably more concerned with the process and the nature of the materials I use.

Paint has intrinsic properties of light, contrast, texture, etc. It seems to me that I should allow the materials an equal say in the process. It’s interesting to me to find out what happens when you experiment and push the envelope.

All of this must happen, of course, within a compositional framework which is a way of saying that things must be balanced. The interesting challenge for me is to obtain a sense of balance between a chosen subject and the material’s desire to do what it wants.

Hopefully I can bring this off not only in a way that entertains me, but allows the viewer to relate to the work as well as leaving room for a high degree of personal interpretation.


Most paintings start with a layer of composite gold leaf. While subsequent layers of paint may be applied, the gold sets a metallic tone that carries through the painting. In addition, metallic, iridescent and interference paint with a high gloss varnish embellishes the metallic quality of the work.

These effects are sometimes subtle and might change as the viewer changes his/her viewpoint. The full effect is very difficult to fully capture photographically so the work is best fully appreciated when viewed in person.

Hugh Webb is represented by the Lawrence Gallery, 540 N State St, Lake Oswego, OR 97034

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