The first thing that caught my attention about his paintings was his brushwork, which is loose and confident. Simons also works primarily from life which I think helps him to capture the light and colors that are so vivid in his scenes.
The above painting is a favorite of mine because of its bold colors and almost hasty layering of paint. I feel a sense of movement and purpose in the scene, which is appropriate, since it seems the tugboat was being worked on when Simons was painting it.
The thing I like most about Simons’ work, however, is his ability to blur the line between abstract and realistic paintings.
I think his stylistic approach to painting could be called abstract, especially in some of his landscapes. The term abstract really means “to take from” and only in the 20th century has it came to mean a specific style of art. In a completely literal sense, Simons “takes from” real life and paints scenes which are completely unique to him and his experience.
This landscape of his, for example, operates quite well as an abstract painting. It has complementary colors of blues and oranges, depth, thick texture, and so on. Turned on its side, it would still be an enjoyable work of art. Of course, left as it is, it’s recognizable as a winter scene.