A California native, Douglas Schneider is known for combining blocks of color with detailed images. In his work, Schneider says, he is able to employ his draftsmanship and his passion for expressionism simultaneously. However, unlike other stylists whom Schneider admires (de Kooning, Cezanne, Degas, Rauschenberg and Richter) Schneider’s styles coexist in one painting.
“The first thing I want to do is get the energy out- like crazy jazz, or parts of Hendrix- the paint just starts flowing,” he said. “Then some form indicates itself- it’s hard to describe- but I have a whole collection of imagery: old wooden toys, issues of Look magazine, newspapers from a long time ago. I’ll put up things that might work with the abstraction and start painting.”
“One image balances off another, like Hans Hoffman said, and the instant you have two lines on a canvas you have a tension that suggests the beginning of a narrative,” Schneider said. “From there you have endless possibilities.”As one art historian observed in a catalog of Schneider’s work, the artist’s use of illusionistic perspective against a backdrop of raw expressionistic brushwork gives us the impression we can look deep into the canvas, only to be thrust back to the surface.
As recollections of a small town childhood, Schneider’s paintings are littered with traces of home and school: apples, blackboards,
front porches and little girls. With bold and expressive sleights of hand, Schneider combines the remains of earlier renditions on the canvas, partially deleted, with sharp-focus realism and half-formed sketches. At a garage sale, he once bought over 1,000 jazz albums and lots of sheet music. He collects old toys, musical instruments, hats and books on birds. He also has piles of Life
and Look magazines from the 1930’s through the 1970’s.
The horses in his work are a tip of the hat to Schneider’s Native American grandfather (from which Schneider inherits one-quarter Cherokee), who taught him to ride and who cherished the feeling of running free across open country. By the second grade, Schneider was being encouraged by his teachers to paint. By fifth grade, he was painting murals for his elementary school. The last day of graduate school at the California College of Arts and Crafts, a dealer saw Schneider’s work and one month later, the young artist had his first show.