Artist's Statement

Gordon with fellow artists Gustave Courbet and Daniel Cooney
Gordon with fellow artists Gustave Courbet and Daniel Cooney


  Despite life's all-consuming routines, work, family and a lifestyle steeped in sports, I have always had a yearning for the arts; it has simmered for years--decades--under the demands of making a living and raising a family, only passively manifesting itself in the miscellany of gallery and museum visits.


Driving to my Systems Analyst job in January 2000, I passed an "Art Studio Available" sign in Stoughton, Massachusetts. I rented a studio, brought in supplies and began painting and interacting with kindred souls. As the months passed, it became self-evident that I would be painting for the rest of my life. When I'm absorbed in a painting, hours pass like minutes--such is the litmus test of one's passion.


My artistic influences--after my mother who was a gifted artist and my father who was a play-by-ear musician--include the painterly style of Sargent; the spare moodiness of Carierre, the tempestuous splashes of Turner and the delicious umbers, siennas and ochres of the Dutch masters. I love the romance of oils, their smells and textures and accidentals--the fact that it takes time and patience and controlled enthusiasm to complete a work. On good days in the studio, I feel very much that I am living the 1890's Parisian dream; on bad days, I fortify myself with the words of Delacroix, "Finishing a painting demands a heart of steel".


My primary thematic focus prior to 2008 has been capturing the spirit of the blues on canvas, e.g., blues musicians, juke joint scenes and the general exuberance reflected in a uniquely American jewel.


More recently, I have become drawn to the fascinating, seedy history of the gypsies in Paris of the 1930s. Although the true plight of the gypsy is one of steady migration, overwhelming poverty and historical persecution, the majority of my gypsy pieces concentrate on the romantic notion of gypsy dancers--beautiful bejeweled women pirouetting with swirling scarves. My series really took flight when I decided to work directly with models--freely posed in the studio with light and shadow at my control.


In addition to my oil painting, I continue to work with charcoal in gesture and figure studies. In this vein, I've taken some very old sheet music--often worn, torn or stained--and created charcoal and pencil sketches loosely based on the mood evoked by the various titles. I thoroughly enjoy this artistic marriage, enlivening largely discarded material with a complementary artistic statement; often the musical notations work themselves into the sketch itself.


The panorama of the artist is truly an infinite palette. I think most artists would agree with Picasso when he said "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once one grows up."







Gordon Cowan

Northrup King Building 

1500 Jackson Street NE

Studio 428

Minneapolis, MN  55413