Art of Lists banner

Artist Statement for “Visual Riddles”

I like to create art that has immediate impact, and a residual mental tickle.

This is a series I call “Visual Riddles.” It's a tribute to pop culture, and incorporates a list of relevant personalities or phrases, anchored by an oversized painting of everyday objects that somehow link with that list of words.

I enjoy it when the linkage is playful and less than overt. Some of the references are famous luminaries. Others are more obscure curve balls. In either event, they are a rather personal list that provides a marriage between words and pictures.

It all started innocently enough, with a painting called “The M&M's.” I was attracted to the near perfect shapes and bright colors of these “melt in your mouth” candies, but was stumped for a background. I started doodling different M&M's, such as Marilyn Monroe and Mickey Mantle. The list became its own form of amusement. It also became a contrapuntal backdrop for shiny, supersized orbs of color.

This led to other lists and other images-- Lifesavers, Jacks, Chunkies, Smarties. Twinkies, Fifth Avenue, Flip flops. I began looking in cupboards and drawers and found that just about any product or household object could generate a dotted line list of luminaries. Quite frankly I am still amazed at how these everyday objects can suggest an emotional reference to people and events.

I like to keep the image big and bold enough to sometimes obliterate the words, or at least make it challenging for the viewer to fill in the blanks. I paint with watercolor for translucency and finish with some pastel touches to help bring the image forward.
Some have called it “art with a sense of humor.” I am complimented by that, since I believe that for any two-dimensional piece to bring layers of pleasure is a worthy goal.

- John Nieman

back to Art Of Lists

WSG logo