About My Art: Visionary Experience

Part 1 – How I Became a Painter

I gained insight into the nature of my painting by going back to what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I saw Star Wars in 1977 when I was 7 years old, quite possibly the perfect age to have seen that movie. I spent my whole youth wanting to be a film maker. And 10 years later, in 1987, that’s what I went off to college to try to be. I had to enroll in a freshman arts foundation curriculum, which exposed students to a whole gamut of creative disciplines, like drawing, sculpture, interior design, and commercial art.

It was in these classes I discovered painting. From the first moment I tackled a big surface as a student project I was hooked, although it took a long while and several changes of majors to understand this. But now I’ve been painting seriously since 1991, and it remains as fascinating as ever. I’ve never stopped working at it in all those years.

I’ve found the way to show my vision and tell my stories without needing the resources of a film studio. As I’ve gained comprehension of my art, I’ve been clearer about what it is I do.

I’m showing you stills from the movies in my mind. The possibilities are endless.

Richard Bledsoe “Gentlemen Astronomers” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″

Part 2 – Where Do I Get My Ideas

I am an intuitive artist, working not from observation but from visions that arise in my mind. The potential subject matter is limited only by the freedom of imagination, my capacity to comprehend what is presented to me, and the skill I have to render it visible.

I am not after a naturalistic recreation of the world. Painting is a dream world, and requires its own particular forms of creation. Its beauty transcends realism.

Other artists might work in the great traditions of landscape, still life, portraiture, or figurative painting. The visions I present are a blend of all these different explorations into a single unified image.

I’m sort of a mutant form of a history painter, the genre once considered the highest form in the hierarchy of Western art, but much neglected in the modern and contemporary art worlds.

The difference is story telling. Rather than make a detached work of art for art sake’s, emphasizing merely formal concerns, history painting depicts a moment of drama. It shows action arrested for contemplation, rich in implications of past, present, and future activity. It injects the element of time, suggests consequences and resolutions are pending, and extends the liveliness of the art beyond the edges of the canvas.

In my book Remodern America, I described how the images come to me:

I can sum up my art with one simple statement: The Good Lord told me to show you this.

I have visions. They come at the most random times. I could be washing the dishes, or driving to work, and suddenly the picture is there. It usually arrives now with a title, dimensions and suggestions for technique.

These visions tend to come in waves, or clusters. I’ll receive multiple suggestions over a few days or weeks, then experience a lull which can last weeks or months.

I maintain a notebook where I jot down the ideas so I don’t lose them; usually the title and a one line description is enough to recall the intact image to my mind. The book has hundreds of entries already. I will never live long enough to paint out all the pictures that have been presented to me, and new visions keep arriving all the time. I have to prioritize…

Like in a dream, the imagery is full of symbolism. The specific details shown are significant, though like in a dream it’s not always obvious, and not clear cut. There are nuances and connotations and above all, the final wordless mystery.

As I work on the paintings, I come to interpret them. Patrons will often share insights with me on my works as well, telling me meanings that I didn’t even realize, but which become clear once indicated.

Such is the seductive beauty of symbolic expression; even when manifesting universal archetypes, a symbol caresses the spectator in an intimate manner. While symbols can communicate concepts shared in common, each person experiences the thrill of recognition in a unique way, different as fingerprints.

Symbols give hints. They gesture. If you follow their indications, you find yourself gazing upon the unknowable complexity and profundity of existence.

I no longer work from preparatory drawings or grids. I create the images by painting them directly out on the canvases. While working on the paintings, the most effective results happen when I’ve become so absorbed in the process that I’m aware of nothing else. In fact, it’s like I’m aware of nothing at all.

 I vanish while my paintings get applied to the canvas. I have the continuous experience of stepping back from the work to see it, and it’s like I’m stepping out of a trance. I’m constantly surprised by what I see has appeared on the painting, because I have no memory of doing it. Turning myself over to this receptive state allows something beyond my own capacities to take over. My best achievements are works done through me, rather than by me.

-Richard Bledsoe

From Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization (2018)

Richard Bledsoe “Mothman” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″


I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.


Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!


ART QUOTES: Visionary Experience


Max Beckmann “Perseus”

“All important things in art have always originated from the deepest feeling about the mystery of Being.”

-Max Beckmann



Carl Jung “Solar Barge”

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”

–Carl Jung



From “Crazy Over You” Charles Thomson
“The artist to a certain extent is a seer or a visionary.”
-Charles Thomson
Paul Cezanne “Chateau Noir”
“What I am trying to translate to you is more mysterious; it is entwined in the very roots of being, in the implacable source of sensations.”
-Paul Cezanne

guston7Philip Guston “Painters Forms”

“There comes a point when the paint doesn’t feel like paint. I don’t know why. Some mysterious thing happens.”
-Philip Guston
William Blake “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun”
“The man who never in his mind and thoughts travel’d to heaven is no artist.”
-William Blake  


EXPLOITS: The Idea Book

Idea Book

Hundreds of potential paintings

My paintings come from visionary experiences. At the most random moments, I am suddenly shown a picture, an image of a painting I need to create. These visions usually come with titles, dimensions for the canvas, and maybe of bit of insight into their meaning.

Usually it takes a longer gestation period before their true significance becomes apparent. The visions are like dreams, in that what appears is full of  symbolic connotations which take some meditation to grasp.

I’ve been reading about eidetic memory, the mysterious ability to recall incredibly detailed information later on. Retaining the strange imagery that jumps out of my imagination seems to be my idiot savant version of this trait. Apart from painting ideas, my memory is terrible.

Since the end of 2009, I’ve been jotting down the ideas in a notebook and dating them. I do this instead of making sketches. It only takes a title and maybe a brief line of description to recall the fully articulated vision to my mind.

Sometimes the ideas hit me while at I’m at my job. Since my book lives in the studio, what I do is get the idea down on a post-it note and stick it into the journal when I get home.

CoverThe journal’s cover features writers and quotations, but it is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so it’s appropriate for paintings. My favorite quote is from George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?'”

The first entry is dated 12/24/09; it must have been a Christmas gift opened early.

Whenever I want to start a new painting, if I don’t have a specific one in mind already, I pull out this book and read through the listings. The associated imagery plays through my mind like a slide show. I look for one that really resonates with my intuition and get to work.

Later I might go back and note dates the painting was actually begun or completed, where it showed, if it sold. I’m not too consistent about this because the book is more about capturing the unfolding of new projects than record keeping paperwork.

For instance, here is a page from 2012:


Some of these have been made, some haven’t. This one I was excited about, and I had a deadline, because I started it almost right away:

“2/27 The Night of Wonders-1700’s telescope with sky full of wheels and devices begun 3/3/12 done 6/12”

This was the resulting painting:


Richard Bledsoe “The Night of Wonders” acrylic on canvas 36″ x 18″

This piece ended up as my contribution to a group show I curated at our gallery Deus Ex Machina in July 2012: “Alien Technology II,” a commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Roswell Incident.

I counted up the scribbled lines currently included in my idea book. There are almost 250 paintings visualized in there. The most recent entry was added today.

While I am a productive painter that keeps multiple in-progress pieces on hand,  I will never live long enough to create all the painting visions I’ve had. And the list of potential paintings keeps getting longer.

The best I can do is trust I will always recognize which painting is the next one that needs to be done.


“…The Stuckist doesn’t strive-which is to avoid who and where you are-the Stuckist engages with the moment.”

The Stuckists Manifesto



STUDIO: Painting in Progress


Barely begun

The painting has begun on my 36″ x 36″ canvas. I’m using Liquitex acrylic paints to try to make a vision I beheld visible to the world.

The idea was triggered was a simple conversation. One of my sister-in-laws moved to a town in New Jersey called Forked River. She advised us the correct pronunciation of the first word for the place was actually “For-Ked,” two syllables, which amused me somehow. It seemed so archaic and grandiose.

As I pondered this the image appeared to me-not a little town in New Jersey, but an occurrence in the wilderness of the mind and spirit. The title was “A Tale of the Forked River.” Like many of my paintings, it would depict the mysterious, an experience of the uncompromising power and strangeness of life.

I saw the color scheme of yellows predominating with black and white; ragged pine trees, a stony landscape, a crouching figure inadequately armed. All revolved around the presence of The Great Bear.

I wrote the title and a brief note in a book I keep to document the visions I have. There are dozens of entries in the book. I’ll never live long enough to paint out all the ideas I’ve had, and they just keep coming. Looking back I see I dated this one December 7, 2013-a day that will live in infamy.

It takes me weeks and even months to complete a work of this size. Because I’m an intuitive artist, I kind of have to feel my way through the painting-I don’t do preparatory drawings, I work it out on the canvas, which leads to many problems and corrections. But it also leads to discoveries.

This painting has only been worked on a few times so far. It’s at the phase my wife, painter Michele Bledsoe, refers to as a train wreck. The sky is full of light but the material objects are slow to take form. I’m putting it out there in this tentative and unresolved state to share my painting process.


“A Tale of the Forked River” work in progress