the artist's statement

"It's about storytelling. I would like to think that looking at my work brings a backstory to the mind of the viewer. It may not be the same story for every viewer and perhaps be even quite different than the story that I had in mind, but hopefully I will have created something that causes a viewer to think beyond what they are seeing and into the story about what they are seeing. Because we've all had uniquely different life experiences, it may bring them to a memory of their own, instead of what I've intended, but my intent is to take them to the place where "how" and "why" are more significant than "what".

I believe that when an artist hangs a painting, a bargain has just been struck between the artist and the viewer. As an artist, my responsibility is to craft (yes that's right, I said "craft") an image that is as realistic and true to life as my eye and hand can create it. I could expect no higher compliment than for a viewer to look at my painting and think 'Oh, that's gotta be a photograph!' When my 'artistry' (read 'craftmanship') has taken a viewer to that point, then I can feel that I have lived up to my end of the bargain and mastered my obligation in our relationship. The viewer's only responsibility is to appreciate my craftsmanship."

At the beginning of 2006, Kirk Witmer became a transplant from southeast Pennsylvania to central Texas, Liberty Hill to be exact. Too many cold winters had driven him to a warmer climate.

Many may think that oil painting is a strange thing to take up at such a late point in someone's life, but "I suppose the desire was always there from an early age". Things like education, family and career sort of got in Kirk's way. But finally, in 2008, for the first time, there was The Great Conjunction of available time and the desire to 'get at it'.

Kirk did have one course in drawing and one in painting back in his college years, but those were umpty ump years ago and without time to keep in practice, he long ago lost any gains he may have made. In between times he got involved with woodworking, including pyrography on wood and gourds, bird carving, spoon carving and chip carving, all of which gave him an outlet for things artistic. In 2004 he took a short course in painting, but it wasn't until the end of 2007 that he took out his brushes to begin anew and he's been painting pretty steadily ever since.

His inspirations come from many sources, and he enjoys taking bits and pieces from various places and combining them into his works. So for now, he mainly works from photos, and stays in his studio. He says he's tried the "plein air" route, and while it may be just the thing for others, for now he prefers not being distracted by the elements like wind and insects.

Kirk has been very much influenced by the trompe l'leil style of painting and admires the work of many photo-realistic painters from the late Henry Farny and late Frank McCarthy to James Bama and Tim Cox. He says "I know that, as a craftsman, I'm not there yet, but that's where I'm aiming."

In 2009 Kirk bought a digital camera that would allow him to take better pictures of his paintings and to take better pictures to paint from. What he didn't realize was just how much fun he could have with photography. Click the "Photography" link to see what he's been up to with his camera.