The Figure as Flavoring

In Shine Mirror (watercolor, 28 x 37)

When I started putting figures into my paintings, for instance, I wanted to put them into places they could exist in; I let the environment provide a justification for the figure. The people then really became just flavoring for my paintings, which were as much about the environment as they were about the figures. By painting with this intent, I found that I could minimize a lot of elements. For instance, if I found that the face, which is such a descriptive element of the personality, was overpowering the rest of the painting, I’d take it out. For example, in In Shine Mirror (above), I wanted to memorialize my father after he passed away, but I had trouble recollecting his features in detail. So instead of creating an exact likeness, I tried to capture his essence by leaving out the face and putting him in a familiar setting?a barbershop, a scene I explored in a series of paintings. The mirrors imply spirituality and reflection.

Growing up in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri gave Al Agnew plenty of opportunity to nurture his twin passions for nature and art, and he’s since traveled across North America and to Africa to view and paint his subjects in their natural surroundings. He’s an ardent naturalist whose work has raised millions of dollars for conservation organizations and appeared in many nature publications, and he’s been a featured artist at several national shows of wildlife art. Limited-edition prints of his work are available from Hadley House Publishers of Plymouth, Minnesota, and his works have been reproduced on sportwears, furniture throws, collectivle plates and other products. He lives in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

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