Michael Dickter was raised in Brooklyn, but has lived in Seattle, Washington since the 1980s. His paintings hang in numerous private and public collections including Seattle University and the Swedish Hospital. He has had solo and group shows throughout the US including the SAM Gallery at the Seattle Art Museum and in galleries in cities including New York, Santa Fe, and Seattle.
“Birds have a kind of freedom implied because of how they live in the world,” Dickter says. “You know: they fly. We can’t do that. After a bout with cancer I started thinking about impermanence and beauty. And that affects how I see the world. I work in two ways: there’s a kind of specificity, the birds look like the birds, but I also want to kind of destroy them by squirting water on them and making them drip. So at one time they’re more specific, and then they’re also more kind of… they’re melting. They’re going away.”
Dickter says he was influenced by the work of Robert Raushenberg, Cy Twombly, and Matisse, though he says as far as how he actually applies paint he’s most influenced by Larry Rivers and Jim Dine.
Process and Media
Primarily working on panel primed with a durable plaster-like coating, Dickter begins his pieces by gridding the panel and drawing in the subjects. He frequently incorporates lines of poetry, words, addresses, even phone numbers onto the canvas, a practice that felt natural after years of working in graphic design. He works from digital “sketches” that he mocks up from a large image bank of birds and flowers composed of his own and found photography. He uses water-soluble oil paint to render the subjects, and then water to dissolve them.
“I think about the world.
I think about fleeting moments when beauty surprises and astounds us. About the changing pace, the shifting balance of nature. About connections. About simplicity.
For the past couple of years I have been painting birds and flowers in a grid on a white background. Simple. But they are changing and melting and dripping. They are beautiful and fragile and tough and enduring. Not so simple.
I think about the joy of mark making and of color and drips and the responsibility of the truthful question, whatever that turns out to be. And about how to use this as a lens to examine the world around me. I think about the world.