Artist’s Statement

Kindt never wrote an artist’s statement. They became popular in the 1990s after she had retired and given up painting. This statement was compiled by her niece and student, Alison Mahoney, from portions of the Preface, Chapter I, and Concerning my Recent Development as a Painter in her 1966 PhD thesis. Minor sentence editing was performed to make the statement more concise and to provide continuity. Click here to read the unedited sections of her thesis.

At the time I started to work with Hoyt Sherman at the Ohio State University, I had reached an impasse in my development as a painter. I painted most successfully from a model, a still life set-up, or a “picturesque” landscape, because I needed the visual stimulus. Working from “imagination” often deteriorated into trying to recall how something looked or to construct it conceptually. Such paintings were disappointing, because I tended to describe all things equally. I tried to use color, yet had no real understanding what the difference between a Cezanne and a Rembrandt was other than Cezanne was using blue, orange and “brighter” colors, whereas Rembrandt’s colors were limited, stressing black and earth colors.

My style was a kind of Post-Impressionism. I admired 19th-century painting, especially the landscapes of Constable, Cezanne and Van Gogh. This preference was undoubtedly reinforced by a philosophic viewpoint which had its basis in 19th-century Romantic poetry and literature. I had acquired attitudes about nature and art that were so much a part of the way I felt about the world and painting that I had difficulty reconciling my feelings and the gnawing conviction that, living in the 20th century, I really could not continue to paint in the style of the 19th.

I began to embrace Mr. Sherman’s doctrine of the nature of artistic form, which is based in theories of perception in Gestalt and Transactionalist psychology.  According to Sherman, a painting (stimulus) is an abstract configuration whose form is based on perceived relationships of the visual elements of contrast, shape (size and position) and brightness. These “relationships” do not necessarily exist in the stimulus, but are “perceived” as a result of the interactions of the stimulus, the past experience, and the purpose of the artist. A characteristic of the well-organized configuration is apparent unity or harmony. Apparent unity again takes the artist or viewer into consideration. The work of art is made up of distinct parts, but through certain relationships, i.e., proximity, continuity of edges, closure, and brightness or hue contrast, by which a viewer tends to group the parts, the configuration appears to be unified.

I completely revised my method and outlook in painting. I learned to approach “composition” not as an aggregation of “well-drawn” objects, but as a total structure from which the parts emerged. Color was a basic structural component having a much more profound function than describing objects. I had to unlearn the way I had drawn, the way I had painted. Perhaps my greatest struggle was to abandon what I could do and to be willing to literally flounder in an effort to get started in a new direction.

I gradually realized that the style and subject matter of a painting should neither permit nor prevent my being able to appreciate it. As I more clearly understood the nature of formal structure in painting, I was aware of it as a common denominator in the representational painting that I had preferred and the abstract painting that I had not been able to “understand.” I was finally able to reconcile the two and to work abstractly from a position of conviction.