Benicia Arsenal artist Chuck Potter paints abstract, bold — and big
By Bethany A. Monk
There’s a difference, says Benicia artist Chuck Potter, in painting what you see and painting what you think.
The abstractionist, who by day deals in the world of numbers as a taxman in Walnut Creek, believes that all paintings are abstract. “When I paint a mountain, it’s not a mountain,” he said Tuesday. “It’s a painting of a mountain.”
And for mountains, artists need big spaces.
Potter and his wife, Diane Williams, both Bay Area natives and avid painters, have resided in the live-work section of the Benicia Arsenal since the 1990s. One of the bonuses of their studio, he said, is that it lets them work big.
“We have 2,000 square feet and 18-foot-high walls.” For the large-scale painters whose canvases sometimes exceed 6 or 7 feet, “the space is excellent,” he said.
One of the benefits of these canvases is that the entire body participates in the painting process.
“It’s a movement with your arms, legs and torso,” Potter said. “So you dance with your brush.”
Potter and his wife have long studied this “dance,” he said. For a time they lived and learned in China, studying Chinese painting in depth. Hundreds of years ago, he said, Buddhist monks would paint using their hair as a brush.
“The relationship of the artist to the painting is an important connection,” Potter said. Canvases reflect this relationship. “Landscape paintings are often turned the other direction” to emulate the perspective.
Painting abstractly is really about emoting, he said — about “communicating an experience and setting up the viewer to have their own experience and journey.”
For example, in his painting, “A Journey of the Fall,” Potter is most interested in the reaction it generates from those who see it.
“I can give you clues and hints as to what inspired me,” he said. “But what I’m interested in is, where does it take you? What kind of journey does it take you on?”
Potter and Williams have master’s degrees in arts and consciousness from JFK University. Together, they offer classes at their Benicia studio; the next one will begin sometime in May and will run for 12 weeks, with classes held every other week, Potter said.
Like painting, teaching is a passion. “It exercises us and keeps us connected,” he said.
Potter’s exhibition, “The Nature of Things,” is on display at Olson Realty through June 21.
If You Go
A reception for artist Chuck Potter will be held at Olson Realty, 920 First St., where his work is now on display, on May 7 from 6-9 p.m. For more information about his work, visit www.ianistudio.com. For more on his classes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.