Suncook artist evolves into abstract style

  • “Sisters in The Park,” oil painting, by Joel Van Patten. Courtesy of Joel Van Patten

  • Abstract oil painting on canvas by Joel Van Patten. Courtesy of Joel Van Patten

  • "Fenton's Landing," oil painting by Joel Van Patten. —Courtesy of Joel Van Patten

  • "White Park," oil painting, by Joel Van Patten —Courtesy of Joel Van Patten

Monitor staff
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Joel Van Patten’s art continues to evolve and mature.

The Suncook-based painter had originally planned to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design for illustration after he graduated from high school.

But in 2000, the car parts business he ran was burgeoning, and he forewent going to school.

It wasn’t until 2010, as his mother was dying that he found solace in making art; this time oil painting.

“Oil painting is very forgiving,” he said, explaining that mistakes can be rectified easier with paint than when illustrating.

He also took classes at New Hampshire Institute of Art. He said he knew how to paint and illustrate, but wanted to know the techniques better.

Now, he’s shifting again. This time styles – from modern impressionistic paintings to more abstract images.

Van Patten said, in the beginning, he was painting for other people’s approval, and he’s now painting for himself.

“That’s when I think you get a level of maturity as an artist,” he said.

The new style uses blocks of color instead of lots of details.

Van Patten paints at his home studio, works part time at the Currier Museum and gives private lessons to students in Manchester. He says he primarily paints at night from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

“It’s challenging being an artist ... and having a commitment to jobs and providing for your family,” Van Patten said.

His former oil paintings featured landscapes – especially images taken at nighttime in Manchester and places in the Concord region he’s visited with his children.

One of his most recent paintings in the impressionist style is of his two daughters in a Concord park. It is painted entirely with a palette knife.

The new works are less literal, he said. He takes an image and breaks it down into organic blocks of colors. He also plans to work with non-traditional tools like old credit cards and Squeezees.

“It’s a unique way to look at the world,” Van Patten said.

In a sense, it is similar to how images are viewed in the digital world, through square pixels. His art just accentuates the blocks.

The abstraction also gives viewers of the art a chance to project their own views to it.

“You make the world the way you want it to be,” he said.

Van Patten’s favorite part of painting is when the piece of artwork, as he puts it, “flips,” and he can see the two-dimensional work as a three-dimensional space.

He also appreciates that his work is a type of immortality, in that, if well preserved, the paintings may outlast him.

“I think it’s sort of fun that future eyes may be looking at it,” he said.

Van Pattern’s work is not currently in any shows, but he will be participating in the Greeley Park Art Show in Nashua on Aug. 19 and 20. You can also view his work online at vanpattenstudios.com.