About my Work

As a painter, I observe and record my surroundings as a way to connect to the urban spaces I move through. While being an observer may engender feelings of  detachment, it allows me to focus on a moment in time when a certain light or spot of color catches my attention. I am drawn to the seemingly unremarkable areas of a city - construction sites, back alleys, apartment blocks, and empty street corners, as their unfinished and banal states of being suggest an imperfect human presence. Patterns of light and shadow, and above all color, engage my attention and become my subject matter, taking on meaning through the painting process. My paintings develop quickly, my goal being to keep a light touch, and be open to what the image needs. What is left unworked is as important as areas where brushwork defines form. As I search for the essence of what I have seen and felt about a particular space, I sense a tension between stillness and movement; between the remains of the past and the inevitability of change. How a city and its inhabitants manage to exist at this sometimes uncomfortable meeting point gives me endless material no matter where I happen to find myself.

About me

Growing up in the outskirts of Washington DC, I witnessed rapid gentrification as woodlands and farmland became housing developments and shopping malls. Bulldozers razed the cornfield across from our house, and felled the secular oaks once ringing a farmhouse whose front steps now lead to an empty pit. Trips into DC to the Smithsonian American Art Museum brought both discovery and recognition, of what an American landscape had once been, and how it appeared to us now. Hours spent looking at works by Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, and Wayne Thiebaud, gave me time to absorb their moods, colors, and light. Curiosity about the midwest brought me to Grinnell College, in Iowa, and later to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I earned my MFA. Living in a city brought both stresses and inspiration, a theme that has characterized most of my life as I have alternated living between urban and rural areas. My interest in learning languages and experiencing other cultures has had me living for extended periods of time in Norway, Italy, and most recently, Berlin, Germany. Learning about the dramatic urban challenges and transformations facing Berlin and its growing population goes hand in hand with my personal need to understand through my art, my place in this city.

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© Schmoo Theune


Reflections on the painting process


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Schreinerstrasse 14 Berlin, Germany