oil on canvas
I declared victory on my career of nearly 30 years in architecture one day in 1995, and on the very next day began a new career as a painter. In the process of recapitulating the history of art in order to find my place in it, I discovered a few things that have continued to inform my work. I found, for example, that I am not interested in making things that point to an experience or address issues. This is probably because I came to consciousness of art in the early 1960s, when the idea was to make something which, instead of pointing to an experience, becomes the experience itself. The critic Kenneth Burke said that the work of art does something for both the person who makes it and for the viewer, but it may not necessarily be the same thing.
I was also lucky to find out early that looking for more intensity in my work did not mean using new media or materials, but rather meant reaching a better understanding of the traditional techniques and materials of painting that have been in use for four hundred years: canvas, pigment dispersed in linseed oil, bristle brushes. I suspect that four hundred years from now, if our benighted race contrives to last that long, nobody will remember what television or holography were, but they will still be painting and drawing, perhaps with the same stuff.
Most of my paintings are large, about four feet by five feet, and use everyday things as subject matter: a key ring, a box of pencils, an open book. These things appear as if viewed in an intense close-up, with images on the canvas that are many times the actual size of the object. These images become ambiguous, pushed to the edge of abstraction. An untraditional palette and high-key contrast are also part of what lifts these quite realistic paintings of ordinary things into evocative pictorial inventions.
My process begins with imagining forms and colors that elicit an emotional response for me, and then finding or making something that looks like what I had imagined. This is the opposite of seeing something beautiful and making a painting of it.
Alfred North Whitehead said that “…art unlooses the depth of feeling from behind the frontier where the precision of consciousness fails.” I love being part of a tradition that can touch people in this way.