Artist Statement

Art is both a gift to humanity and a gift to the artist.

I believe that art is a gift to humanity from the artist. Most of us can think of some piece of art that means something special to us, and as an artist I feel truly blessed to be able to create something which could have such an impact on somebody else. I also believe that art is a gift to the artist. During my life, whenever I needed a break from what was going on around me, I would simply go to a quiet place and start painting. Being able to work on and create a piece of art has given my life a good balance, if not for anything but to reduce stress.

I am a self-taught artist—one who has done a great deal of painting, from portraits to landscapes to still life’s. After studying the art of the Impressionists I found I was drawn to how they captured light, as well as their mastery of color. There are a lot of things to paint in this world, but the majority of the body of my work reflects my efforts to recreate how light affects the colors on the local landscapes. This explains why I paint Grand Rapids cityscapes and West Michigan landscapes.

I believe you need to know the subject you are painting with intimacy. It is imperative for me to have access to the subject I am painting in order to sketch it, photograph it, or to just sit and study it. My greatest joy comes from sitting in my studio and getting lost in the process of painting, but I also admit I get excited when I finish a painting and somebody tells me, “Hey I know where that it is. I’ve walked by there in the morning and it was just like that.”

As a police officer in Grand Rapids for 17 years, I had seen my share of the lowest aspects of humanity. I have no desire to capture that in my work. Instead, I want my art to bring positive feelings to the viewer. To me, my art is about recreating a place in time that has some type of interest so that other people can be brought there and see what I saw and feel what I felt. Or better yet, to spark the viewer’s own memories. What a gift it is to be a part of that.

Pete Kemme