Original Pen on Panel Art by William McMahan
Untitled 1 by William McMahan. Ink on Paper 14"x17"
William McMahan, The Tree 11"x14", Mixed Media on Wood.


Artist Statement

Art is visual, yet it is experienced emotionally.

In line with the philosophy of expressionism, I strive not to represent reality, but rather to draw emotions. The human condition is one of complication and discord, a cocktail of joy, sadness, and an endless range of other emotions. In my newest work, I strive to elicit a spectrum of emotions, both through individual pieces and through the entire unified body of work.

Vibrant, intuitive color splashes and backgrounds provide brightness and balance for the more twisted, constrained, or tumultuous subject matter, consisting of figures, trees, hands, or an amalgam of some or all of these.

I try to create work that is striking through suggestive forms, bold color choices, and arresting patterns of composition, inspiring viewers to feel compelled to study more closely and to observe the details, the subtle contours, and the varied line-work, ultimately leading to a deeper emotional connection to the piece.

Many of the pieces on the exposed wooden panels have begun with my delving into the subconscious, responding to wood grain patterns and finding figurative forms to pull out and develop. I glean emotion from these contours, then expand them by breaking away from the initial patterns and by reaching color and compositional decisions as the piece evolves. I aim to create a sense of motion and flow within my works, even suggestive of music or dance.

Trees have been a recurring subject matter, as they present infinite possibilities for imparting emotion and figurative qualities. I render roots and branches in manners that are suggestive of veins and nerves, which I hope will prompt intuitive recognition of the continuities between vegetable and animal life, eliciting contemplation on the life cycle and our relationship to the natural world.

Hands, female forms, and trees often meld together in my recent work.  Subtle shifts of position can alter emotions evoked in drawings of hands and figures, renderings and figure drawings, and the more I render these subjects, the more overlap I observe.  I also include feline figures in much of my recent work, as their stoic, observant nature, and graceful, fluid movement capture my imagination and inspire my art.