These are conversations between myself and the materials at hand, the person with whom I'm painting, our emotions and raw data, humanist and anti-anthropocentric impulses, piled onto surfaces with platitudes edited out.
16" x 24"
oil on panel
I'm told that even the beautiful suffer. Some people ignore their suffering, some people don't. Having been married to Kristie for more than 20 years I feel as if I'm getting to know her pretty well. With this painting I've tried to process on a large scale (44" x 60") what I know and what I can only hope to understand about one of the most beautiful two-legged creatures on earth.
As I painted Florenzio he talked only a little and mostly looked away. I'd ask him to look back at me now and then, and he would, but then he'd look away again. At one point he almost fell asleep. Meanwhile, I remembered our labor together, concrete work mostly, breaking for lunch and trying to communicate across the schism of my deficient Spanish. Like so many people who live under the radar, Florenzio lives with less than most Americans dare to imagine living without. He has no typical house. A bicycle and two strong legs are his mode of transport. He has conversations and laughs out loud with people only he can see. I understand there are those who call him "Prophet" but to me he is simply a friend, someone I trust explicitly. This is my second painting of Florenzio. The first one was small, only about 8 inches high. This one is 60" x 30" and is my attempt give a viewer a chance lock eyes with Florenzio, hopefully get a glimpse of his strength and also his humanity.
Shannon 2014 (Confrontation)
Frank's from Texas, but he's been my neighbor for about 17 years. He posed for me on Wednesday mornings Spring 2013. Never had more fun painting someone. He told me stories of his travels and shared his insights. I barely remember the paint going onto the canvas. With Frank it was all about listening and looking. Constant movement, the visual jazz of his skin and his eyes poking out at me with verve, warmth and vitality. Of course there's a touch of meanness in there too, I hope, right there next to a healthy dose of compassion. Hell of a human Frank is, and a gift for a neighbor.
I was having a difficult time picking up a paintbrush after my father died. I’d go down to my studio and sit there in his chair, at the harvest table that he’d had custom made to fit my mother’s wheelchair. I wanted to summon something from these objects that might imbue a work with a tangible manifestation of loss, but all I seemed capable of was to sit there – thinking, remembering, grieving. Eventually, I gave up. Then, one morning, after walking the dogs, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and barely recognized the cold, tired face looking out. I decided to paint that, to funnel all the loss and confusion I felt onto a small portrait I’d started long before and never finished. It was a start.
I painted “Desert Rat” over an egg tempera painting of a man I called “Mouse-boy.” I just kept scratching away at it, beginning in the morning, with the sunlight coming in the east windows of my studio. By mid day, all the light would be diffused and by late afternoon, the sun would be poring in from the west. At first, the constant fluctuation of shadows, colors, textures and atmosphere was frustrating, but then I let go of a hunter’s point of view, trying to capture one thing and keep it. I realized that the change itself was more important to me than any one detail, that the visual cues were merely suggestions to try on, to see if they worked and if not, to move on. My hope is that in the end, if my vision is clear and my choices align, the sum of my orchestrated details, real and imagined, will add up to an honest reflection of reality that goes deeper than appearance.
Jake is the oldest of the three young men that walked our dirt road just about every evening until they reached the age where they were doing other things with their evenings. He's smart, probably brilliant, but more importantly he thinks a lot - he wonders about things. He's one of those young people that give me hope for the future of the planet in spite of most of what I hear on the news.
Ecstasies and Homilies
These egg tempera paintings are an attempt to uproot ecstatic events from Christian iconographic traditions and repurpose those ecstasies for what Daphne Hampson has called a post-Christian age. I’m thinking of dirt more than stars, earth more than heaven, and places where the ancients and the living seem equally present.
Matrimony (To Have and to Hold)
Viaticum (Five and Dime)
This piece is a finalist in a show in the Richeson 75 Competition Exhibit in Kimberly, Wisconsin. Artists' Reception will be February 8, 2013.
252" wide x 68" tall (six panels, 42" x 68" each)
oil on canvas
I've been making pictures to convey stories, or parts of stories, since before I could read and I still consider visual literature a beautifully challenging form of art. It's also just plain old fun to start with a graphite line on a piece of paper and twist it into a character with a history and a tale compelling enough to persuade a reader to turn a page.