At left, "Broken Top" by Hans Schiebold
...Feeling the rush of the season, sensing that this is perhaps the best of his paintings that I have seen, I know that my years of watching the work of Hans Schiebold, a renowned Northwest painter with Cannon Beach connections, have come full circle.
Today, with this wonderful diptych titled "Surrounding Broken Top," I convert from "observer" to "owner." Schiebold was born in Freiberg, Germany.He came to the United States to study at Hartford University Art School in Hartford, Conn., and received his Master of Fine Arts in 1970.He then became professor of fine arts at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he taught from 1970 until 1978.
During this period, Schiebold
was active in the New York abstract art scene of the 1970s, and his
paintings were displayed in many major museums on the east coast.In addition, they were featured in several international museum shows.In 1978, he accepted a position as professor of art at Wichita University, in Kansas, which he held until 1982, when he moved to Portland, where he first began to use the landscape form to move from abstract painting to a more representational mode.
Perhaps it was the abundance of natural beauty in the Northwest that lured Hans
to paint landscapes.Among his
works are beach scenes, mountain views, canyon paintings, desert scapes, and a welter of other natural subjects.Schiebold
has done various series on the deserts of the West, as well as series on rivers, canyons and the Cascade mountains.Schiebold
is drawn to the vastness of the natural scene, a fact that is reflected in the large size of most of his
"A painting should dominate a room," Hans
says, and proceeds to dictate that in the size and technical uniqueness that marks him as an artist. Schiebold
has lived in the Northwest since 1982, splitting his
time between a home in Tigard and Falcon Cove, just south of Cannon Beach.Schiebold
maintains studios in both homes, providing his
growing clientele with canvases that average five feet in width and four feet in height.
Why did he
come to Oregon, and, more specifically, why the coast?
"I loved it; I simply loved it.I lived in Kansas for four years, and there was a little too much Kansas there," he
noted with a chuckle. Schiebold
is especially attached to the area around Cannon Beach, where he
exhibits in the Bronze Coast Gallery
, owned by Kim Barnett.Hans
has high praise for Barnett, citing his sensitivity and fairness with artists.
The coast itself offers Schiebold
an opportunity to explore his
love of landscape art.
"When we moved out here in 1982, I simply fell in love with the Northwest."
One result of the move was a change to more representational landscapes, as opposed to the more stylized work he
had previously done."By that time," Hans
says, "abstract painting had pretty well said all it could say."The Northwest offered him an opportunity to develop a more representational style and ample subject matter, and he
has thrived."They know me here," Hans
says, "They know my work."For him, landscape art was a rediscovery of something that lay within, "a rediscovery of a dormancy," as he
Early Abstract Work
The highly textured technique that Schiebold
now uses was not always part of his
métier.Some of Schiebold's early work was flat.Color-layering, however, was clearly present, a technique that would later lead to the accretive process of his
landscapes and abstracts.In this earlier color-layering, a difficult process of applying acrylic base color veils with an atomizer to create over-all patterns.A color-bleeding effect was achieved from thinned liquid soap
Some of Schiebold's
early works were experiments in graphite, texturized in ways that foreshadow his
later technique.In these, Schiebold
begins to layer his
materials more deeply, creating a patchwork of reflective surfaces that catch and break the light in patterns at once pleasant and provocative.
does not "paint," he
sculpts in media on canvas.Indeed "texture" in Schiebold's work is stretched almost to a breaking point, so layered and worked are his
process is not unlike carving away the applied medium, leaving only what is essential to make the statement he
sees in the scene before him.He
says as much himself: "The ‘how' of painting is more important than the ‘what'."
Pursuing that "how" has caused Schiebold
to collect a wide array of implements for creating texture.Schiebold
uses no brushes in his
work.A look at his
work area reveals palette knives, spatulas, hand-shaped metal tools, sponges, nets, patterned rollers, almost anything that will create a specific pattern or texture in the work at hand.Yet, his
completed works show only the effects of "taking away" what does not belong, in order for the subject to emerge.At times, in fact, that subject seems more implied that stated, a residue from his
abstract days, perhaps.His
landscapes have a sense of mystery but are clearly recognizable: Indian Beach; Mt. Hood; the Columbia Gorge; Hells Canyon; and a wide array of Northwest spots that form the nexus of his
interests.Ask him for a favorite spot, and he
will defer answering, perhaps because the process of landscaping is more important to him than the specific venue. Simply put, Schiebold is a representational artist, insofar as he deals in landscapes.
That searching leads Schiebold
to say that art is like religion: "It functions exactly like a philosophical system."If so, then the concept of "right" is not part of that system."We are searching for something.We do not produce answers; we do not reach conclusions."Ironically, Schiebold notes, "Right" is a concept that "has caused wars in both art and religion."
Is that why Schiebold
has chosen to paint landscapes, rather than to tussle with the ambiguities of abstract art?Probably not, because the earliest of his
oeuvre contains a wide body of abstractions and experiments in technique, as well as color."I have chosen landscapes, and I am comfortable," Schiebold
might have added, "Most people think they understand landscapes," but he
landscapes are not clean-lined representational art, as it is traditionally thought of.An undeniable quality of the abstract artist shows through in Schiebold's
landscapes.The colors are often "messy" as he
terms them; the forms are not clean-lined, but fuzzy for effect; a few strokes often serve to define an entire tree, a line of bushes, or a "feel of the season."Though the style is unique-the defining identity for every artist-the subject is invariably accessible.Schiebold
says, "Everyone who reacts to art can be a critic."In this respect, each of Schiebold's
works seems greater than the sum of its parts.Ultimately, the abstractness is resolved into a beach, a waterfall, a mountain, or a river.
Each work, finally, is a matter of perspective."Seen close up, the mudpots in Yellowstone Park are abstractions.Step back, and they are part of a wonderful scene," he
says.Seen close up, Schiebold's
works are color patches in search of a meaning.Step back, and they resolve into provocative renderings of favorite Northwest scenes.Indeed, most of Schiebold's
works are large, requiring some space for appreciation."A painting should dominate a room," according to Schiebold
, a conviction he
practices in almost every one of his
paintings.The diptych I purchased from the Lawrence Gallery
, for instance, is ten feet wide and five feet high, totally dominating the room in which I placed it.
The combination of color, texture and size create a style uniquely Schiebold's.In this, Schiebold
takes comfort, because "style" is precisely what an artist pursues all his
life."If you are not mastering a technique, you are not painting," he
has been commissioned to repeat the same scene many times: Hells Canyon, specific mountains in the Cascades, and so on.Does repetition bring boredom to the artist, so that it overcomes his
creative energy?"It (repetition) is a problem," says Schiebold
, "but that is how you know an artist's style."It is precisely that repetition, that diverse sameness, which distinguishes one mature artist from another.
"Every painting is different, but the style is inescapable," says Schiebold
."Any artist can be identified by his
technique.This is who we are and this is basically what we are striving for."It is like a person's signature, he
says, just like a person's signature.Schiebold's
paintings are like a signature, just as surely as the almost redundant "hbold" painted into the lower corner of each work. Schiebold
has a deep appreciation for the public function of art.Having a