William Benson
For the past twenty years or so I have been exploring within my work the relationship of two basic elements of visual art: the representational and the abstract. In my efforts to harmonize these two seemingly disparate modes of expression, modes which are the inherent fundamentals of painting and modernism, I found I was also exploring the basis of process and subsequently, time. As I begin the painting the paint is loose, thin and expressive, allowing me to find rhythms and structures that will eventually find their way into the final piece and yet remain as an original expression of the initial process. The geometric "key" of the rectangle or square allows me to play off the grids and arcs that form within certain occurrences of either the abstraction or the representation so that there may be an aesthetic orchestration of form at the end. My mother asked me why I continue to mess with my beautiful landscapes and my reply was that I thought I was enhancing them. Who is to say?
 
In my efforts to include "process" as an essential element of producing art I often show my underlying drawing, done with graphite or brush. When I was young I was more excited at seeing unfinished great works of art so that I could catch a glimpse of some of the preparatory design and drawing elements that preceded the finished image. I pay homage to this idea in my painting "Two Friends". The title suggests the comraderie that seems to exist between the skull and the chrome tea pot but the thin, red frame shows a "finished" painting while the rest of the piece shows everything that went into making it - starting with raw canvas at the very bottom.
 
The "Cow Series" was inspired by two things: my love of drawing with charcoal (perhaps the most basic or primitive of mediums) and the very nature of the beasts themselves. They are landscapes in and of themselves and yet they also exude a wonderfully  familiar presence. It has been difficult to get them to pose as I would wish because every time I set up near a field of them they start heading over to me. Pretty soon I have ten cows staring at me, which would be fine if I were doing just head shots... but I want their profiles, tails and rumps as well.
 
Along with the painting career I am also embarked on restoring (for the past six years) a 36" wooden sloop which I hope to be launching some time this spring or summer. I have a sailing background and hope to be doing a lot of it once this boat gets into the water. That is also why I loved painting the piece "Two Schooners Racing" based on a photograph by Morris Rosenfeld and which was donated to a great B&B in Annapolis, MD. To me, this image epitomizes the golden age of yachting between the years 1900 and 1942.
 
 I live with my wife, Sadie, and two cats in Ithaca, NY. which is at the southern end of Cayuga Lake on of the Finger Lakes upstate.