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Painting From The Inside Out

Cape artist Jack Dickerson digs deep to find the inspiration and energy evident in his work.

Reflections on the Lake, 34″ x 52,” 2022

Unlike filmmaker Rian Johnson’s wildly popular 2019 whodunit, Knives Out, there’s no violence in the paintings of Jack Dickerson. No birches were harmed in his recent series on trees. And yet, there is plenty of mystery and a whole lot of knifing. “To paint the same thing the same way over and over again,” says Dickerson, “I can’t do that. I’m always trying new stuff. Always.” That said, the Brewster artist does explore certain thematic subjects through his impressionist paintings. “This is relatively new,” he says. “This winter, last fall, last summer—I really took off with this tree thing.” He began experimenting about three years ago, but the new series gained momentum when he broke out his knives—putty knives. “I’ve tried to work with palette knives, but I don’t like them, I can’t seem to get the same effect,” he says. Instead, he has discovered that by using putty knife blades of varying widths, bent just so, he has been able to create splotches of color that develop into trunks, bark, branches, leaves, and reflections on the surfaces of water. “There’s more here, I just haven’t found it yet,” he says with delight. “These are just the beginning of the whole putty knife thing.”

Jack Dickerson has discovered that knife work is highly satisfying for both color and texture in his paintings, but the texture begins with the surface itself. He paints exclusively on wooden panels, explaining, “I don’t like the man-made texture of canvas.” For his primer, he uses “the highest quality house paint,” rather than gesso. “Prepping creates texture from the paint,” he says. “Without that initial texture, it’s difficult to the get the putty knife effect.” He starts…



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