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 Arne Lindmark  (1929 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: rural landscape, seascape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is submitted by Cornelia Seckel, publisher "Art Times"

Profile: Arne Lindmark

By RAYMOND J. STEINER
ART TIMES June 1985

ARNE LINDMARK IS one of those artists who'd rather paint than talk about it, who wants his paintings seen rather than discussed. This is not to say that he cannot speak about his workin fact, since his election to the National Academy of Design in the 70's, he has given a great many work-shops in watercolor in cities across the United States as well as given private lessons and demonstrations when he finds time. Yet, it is his particular joy to paint and, hopefully, transmit that joy to his viewers.

"Even in teaching," he says, "all I really do is help people to see." "Seeing" for Arne is not simply noting a house, a tree, a barn, a cow, or a boat. "I try to make them see the spaces, the shapes that allow us to determine that this particular form is a barn or a tree. When someone tells me they have trouble painting a tree, for instance, I tell them to paint around the treeonce they do this, the tree will take care of itself, it will simply be there on the canvas." Sensitizing one's eyes to those 'negative' spaces has been, for Arne, the main thrust of his teaching. For the viewer, much is lost if one too quickly tries to get 'beyond' Lindmark's shapes to the mental process of labeling.

"Most don't realize that it is a particular shape in conjunction with other shapes, that first attracts the eye. It is this composition of shapes that arrests the viewernot a picture of a boat or a house. Naming what it is that comes lateris part of the enjoyment in looking at the painting. But it is the shape that attracts us first. Given a plain with an endless horizon, any form would attract our noticeand once we are attracted to it is only then that our mind strives for identification."

Although he is uncomfortable with any strict classification, Lindmark's preoccupation with large shape lends an abstract quality to his largely figurative body of work. Indeed, there are paintings whose 'subjects' become evident only after several viewings. That they draw us back for further study lends credence to his dictum that subject matter is secondary to some inner response to the juxtaposition of various forms.

He attributes a good deal of his success as a watercolorist to his work as a graphic artist for an advertising firm in New York City. Far from being disgruntled at being taken away from his 'fine art,' he finds that each discipline complements the other. Since his work as graphic artist is concerned with catching a prospective buyer's eye, he finds this ability a highly valuable commodity when carried over into his painting. Citing Toulouse-Lautrec's posters as an example, he explains, "These posters could not depend on lengthy explanationsthey had to immediately engage the passer-by. He did this with masterful use of shapes."

Lindmark's own mastering of shape is enhanced by meticulous value studies done in pencil often from photographs he has taken of a chosen motif. Although the bulk of his paintings seem to be either rural scenes or seascapes, he is no advocate of plein air painting and works largely in the studio. After selecting from the photograph his chosen composition, Lindmark will then spend what he assesses is "eighty percent of the total time on a painting" on his sketches. So important is this step that he may re-do a sketch twenty to thirty times before he is completely satisfied. "Once I have my value sketch done," he maintains, "the painting is a fait accompli." It is, in fact, as he does his sketches that he also works out texture and color.

Color, then, seems to be the last consideration that he applies to his watercolors. "I know generally what value a corner will have, but I won't have precise colors until I see what is happening here where I am working." Contrary to the usual procedure, Lindmark starts dark and finishes light. In general, his is a subdued palette, relying on a subtle play of variation and light to highlight his meticulous blending of shape into stunning compositions which have, at least for his viewer, a visceral as well as intellectual impact.

Lindmark, in spite of a full-time job to which he must commute from his Dutchess County home and studio, turns out a remarkable amount of work and still finds time for numerous one-man and group shows both here and abroad. An affable, easy-going nature, he hardly seems to be the seething turmoil of creative energy that his activities and work would appear to need. Yet, even in relaxed conversation, one can feel Lindmark 'at work.' As he speaks of shapes, you can see him shifting, sorting, running through his visual storehouse of collected images, creating compositions as he seeks words to express what his hands can communicate so well. Since most of his work has beginning in actual, physical locations, his camera is always at the ready when he is not at his desk or his easel. "The way the roundness of a wheel will cut into the rectangular shape of a doorway may catch my eye and I'll stop to photograph it."

During his sketches, his artist's eye will discard the extraneous, rearrange the actuality for harmony, perhaps add a shape from another photo-memory, adding values that will later be transformed into texture and color in the finished watercolor. Not content to merely see and understand his work as a visual artist, Lindmark's unquenchable energy leads him to relate his work, his creative activity, to that of the musician, of the writerof anyone involved in the creative process. It was his hope that in the near future I could meet with him and a musician friend in order to discuss our various disciplines, our problems, in an effort to understand the under-lying connectedness of all art.

An impressive record of awards and honors has done little to change the essential humility of Arne Lindmark. Not even his football player's shoulders could convince you that this is anything other than a sensitive and loving soul who derives as much pleasure from his gifts as they give to others. The new seascape, the eye-catching barn upon a hill, mean more to him than the latest award just received in the mailall he wants is a chance to capture it in his way, on his canvas. That they please him is evident for there are those he will never sellanother boon from his work as a graphic artist: he doesn't have to sell his work in order to live.

The recipient of over 40 awards in national competitions (including two Silver, one Bronze, and the Purchase Award Ranger Fund, National Academy of Design), Lindmark is a member of the American WaterColor Society, The National Academy of Design, The Allied Artists of America, The Kent Art Association, The Orange County Water Color Society and the Hudson Valley Art Association. His exhibitions include one of 50 paintings representing AWS at the Olympics in Mexico City, one of 50 representing AWS in Sidney, Australia and one of 7 selected Watercolorists of the USA at Davenport, Iowa. The subject of various articles, he is listed in "Who's Who in America", "Who's Who in American Art", "Who's Who in the East", and the "Dictionary of International Biographies", London, England.

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