First Friday Art Walk June 7th, 2024

About the Artist, Patrick Cosgrove

As a kid who drew constantly throughout childhood, I became an adolescent who let that joy languish. I remain grateful that when I arrived at college and realized I had no idea why I was there, I had the privilege of being able to ask myself if indeed I had a passion. It was creating — I needed to make things. I transferred to the School of Art and received a BFA from the University of Michigan, concentrating in painting and photography, then shifted attention and continued through Doctoral Candidacy in Film Studies at Michigan. I worked in the Film Industry as an Assistant Director for seven years on projects such as Goonies and the original Top Gun, and have been apologizing for Howard the Duck since 1986.

After walking away from Hollywood to be the parent-at-home for my sons, I became a teacher of Photography and Film Studies at a public high school in Sacramento, California, where I also taught Studio Art, American Literature, and Critical Thinking. Eventually it was my teaching that brought me back to the passion for creative image-making. Often while painting I’ve had the fleeting sensation that I’m close to creating music, or that my canvas is somehow my dance partner, that even the Photoshop screen is moving in rhythm with me. It’s in making images where the words of Stephen Sondheim ring most true for me: I must be “finishing a hat, where there never was a hat.”

I grew up a rootless Midwesterner, a corporate brat shuttled from town to town, belonging nowhere specific. The works in my digital painting portfolio, “Mountain to Valley to Sea,” and my portfolio of photos are less about capturing travel memories and more so a deeper engagement, a meditation upon the beauty of where I now live that is meant to offer a sense of having arrived at a place I was always intended to be — my adopted roots. I’ve crisscrossed the Bay Area, Southern and Northern California, and the Central Valley hundreds of times and have been in love with this boundless topography for over 40 years, all the while absorbing a serenity from the landscape, a sense of having come home. It is these meditative moments upon a place imbued with wonder — undulating farmland, the incessant movement along the shoreline, the mountainsides both rocky and verdant — that I want to share.

In painting I work from my own reference photographs. As a dual major in painting and photography while completing my BFA, I’m still fully engaged in both mediums. While a photograph can give us “the skin of the world” (Sontag) in exquisite detail, and intensify the abstract qualities of elements such as line and texture, a painting with its re-worked layers can also give us a sense of time and depth, of experience, of a view that rewards looking again and again. My camera is my sketchbook, and the flexibility of photo editing allows me to explore the infinite possibilities in a 2-dimensional design. Shape, color, and value can be intensified, transformed, until ultimately my work on canvas becomes an exploration not of how to reproduce what the camera saw, but of what the painting needs in order to become its independent self, freed in its final form of any obligation to the source photo.

For this I’ve found oils to be ideal. As a surface I’m suited to canvas and linen, as they responds well to the vigor of my brush and knife work, the spreading, scraping, re-working, and finally glazing of the much-churned surface. The oils are water-miscible to allow me to work without irritating solvents. My deepest influences in painting — and even indirectly in photography — have been Paul Cézanne, Edward Hopper, and Gregory Kondos, as well as a number of 20th Century California impressionists; I feel their dimensional push-pull whenever finding a 2-D design in the 3-D world. Whether it’s through brush or lens, every canvas and every camera frame I compose compels me to capture the light and textures and rhythms of California and its endless visual treasure.

Patrick Cosgrove — Artist’s Résumé

You can see his work at Blue Wing Gallery, 405 Main Street, Woodland