Creative work has always been the foundation of my life. In college I received six years of extensive training in drawing, painting, sculpture, and art history and graduated with a B.S. Degree in Design. My career in design was very fulfilling, working worldwide in architecture and design, but over the years I have always painted and made sculptures. I have presented figurative and abstract work in varying venues including competitions and private galleries.
In the late 1990’s, I developed an Essential Tremor (ET). ET is a genetically inherited progressive neurological disorder, causing uncontrollable shaking, primarily in my hands. Even with medication, the tremor reduces my ability to use small motor skills, limiting my ability to draw freehand and tightly control images. Faced with ever declining control of line making skills, I chose to refocus my art on primarily non-objective abstract painting and sculpture.
Today, I make sculptures, paintings, and combine, or composite, paintings that unite painting and sculpture. The work is process based and experimental in nature. Visually, the work focuses on composition, lines, layers, textures, and a variety of forms. As my tremor progresses I rely less on small tools and more on larger tools that allow the simultaneous use of two hands, such as plastering trowels, large brushes and tools I make to guide my lines and the application of paints. I am also gradually exploring new materials for line and form making, including common easily found materials such as cloth, paper, rope, wire, glass and wood. I am currently working to introduce light into both my paintings and sculptures.
I have always been a very regimented person; military school, pre-med, then architecture and design. I prefer compositions that are geometric, rectilinear, symmetrical, controlled. I have worked hard to introduce happenstance and improvisation into my art with some measure of success. Now I am seeking to expand my compositions into new forms that ignore pure regimentation and explore multiple surfaces, the edges of the work and freestanding sculptures that expand the vocabulary of my practice.
Conceptually, my work will continue to explore the conflict of chaos and control. I’m interested in things that are unchanging, permanent and universal. They have structure, simplicity, and control. I am equally interested in things that are random, intuitive, unplanned, and disordered, even chaotic. The content of my art is about these conflicts. The visual resolutions of these conflicts result in the language of my paintings and sculptures. Ultimately, I find beauty in the simple structure within our lives and I find joy in the unexpected possibilities that fate provides.
Eric Ketelsen Website
Much of my work might be characterized by pattern, repetition and layering of tone and formal abstraction on paper. At the root of my work is a fascination with the quality of line, mark, and stroke of the pencil on the page. I think of my work as a spiritual practice. I strive to create marks on the page that are “alive” in much the same way the Zen calligrapher creates a line that is “alive” through a meditative focus of the mind.
A related influence is wabi-sabi. Often associated with the aesthetic of the Japanese tea ceremony, wabi-sabi recognizes beauty in the imperfect, worn, aged, faded, simple or crude. I often strive for a look of faded or aged tone or an imperfect “wash” in my work. The small areas of paper where no tone is deposited by the pencil fascinate me.
Less obvious in my work, yet present, are the role of memory, recollection and the subtle atmosphere of familiarity that is created in my mind as I work. I am inspired by and often study the work and lives of Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist artists. My work is forward looking while being informed by my earliest impressions of art.