Gregor Kammerer

I have been painting steadily for the last 25 years. I never had intentions of becoming a painter, but it seemed like a fate I could not escape. I majored in literature at Middlebury College in Vermont, and taught English at the secondary level for a few years after graduation. It became clear to me that something was not quite right when, instead of laboring over lesson plans, I found myself drawn to a crudely constructed drafting table to work on my first attempts at watercolor. Upon discovery of painting I felt, for the first time, a sense of profound engagement in my work.
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Hundred Acre Wood
, oil on plaster; 15 1/2" x 12"

Experimentation has been a critical component of my evolution as a painter. For the past ten or so years I have been working in oils and have loved exploring the range of the medium. The most dramatic change in my work occurred when I vowed, for the most part, to stop working from photographs. I began instead trying to resurrect images of landscape from memory and imagination. Without the guidelines of a carefully rendered sketch to adhere to, the process of painting becomes more intuitive. As a layer of paint is added or scraped away, some aspect of a landscape begins to reveal itself. Working this way can be both scary and exhilarating, but recent paintings have light and movement that were absent in my more tightly controlled works in acrylic and egg tempera. I feel that my recent work is direct and honest in a way that is reminiscent of my earlier and looser watercolors. It took me twenty years to dismantle some old ideas and notions I had about painting, and to realize that I had to trust and follow my own instincts.
One aspect of painting which fascinates me is experimenting with a range of work surfaces: panel, canvas, plaster, paper, bird’s-eye maple, old books, and curved steel. More recently, I have begun painting on objects found in salvage yards and other things with intriguing shapes or textures. Every surface takes the paint so differently and, as a result, influences the direction of each painting. Scraping and burnishing the paint on a plaster panel often gives way to radiant light, while the application of a thin glaze upon wood panel reveals the wood’s contours and grain, evoking furrows in the ground. The longer I paint the fewer boundaries I see between painting and sculpture. Exploring these uncharted territories is what keeps me lying awake at night.
My understanding of landscape has been continually nourished by the environments
I’ve lived in. Childhood summers were spent on the Cape in Wellfleet. Time spent in the Adirondacks and the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire has greatly deepened my sense of place. My first studio was on Lopez Island in the Pacific Northwest, where my wife Annie and I lived for four years and started our family.  For the past 23 years, we have lived on the Rhode Island coast with our two children, Willa and Grey.