My paintings quite obviously fall into two groups: a series of six to fifty variations on a theme and single paintings which do not fit into a general category.
After summer of 1930 at Yale's Art School, my student days continued at the Art Students' League in New York. I made many studies of beggars on New York streets and subways. And, as a result of many nights spent in Harlem speakeasies, Manhattan clubs and corner bars, jazz as well as art became very important to me.
I travelled back to Los Angeles in 1934 by way of the negro Gullah community in South Carolina and through New Orleans. When I arrived, I made a set of eleven lithographs with Lynton Kistler; this 'Carolina Low Country Portfolio' was infused with rhythms based on sketches made amidst the Gullah. Their 'shouts' - singing for work, play and worship - heightened my jazz leanings. My jazz theme paintings began in 1935 and continue to this year.
Other themes are:the beach and bathers of Southern California, outer space, Texan pageantry and cockfighting, The Arizona and California deserts, the Circus and side show people, the Commedia dell' Arte, the female nude and portraits of women.
It seems fairly certain that my work is created in reaction to given stimuli; these are 'subject' pictures - responses to places, types of people, cultures and customs. However, mostly I am painting from memory or sketches. You can't find my beach in Santa Monica or my jazz group in New York or New Orleans or Los Angeles!
According to Kenneth Clark, the 'nude' is an art form invented by the Greeks in the 5th century. I like that and I will continue to try and find a place for the nude in the 21st century.
I have spent a number of years teaching art - from conventional classes in painting and life drawing, anatomy, perspective and illustration and in abstract and expressionist painting. I have researched methods, materials and artists' techniques. (I could probably be a world class forger!)
As a commissioned artist, I have completed murals in a number of techniques and have designed and fabricated architectural and decorative sculpture. Since this type of work is usually based on a theme, period or style, research is necessary. I hve learned a great deal about art history from analysing and dissecting historical studies and techniques.
From this it seems that my painting derives from the world around me and from where I am. However, I would like to point out that I was in Rome when I began to paint the Malibu Graces and Goddesses of California!
--Palmer Schoppe - July 2000
Santa Monica, California