Friday, September 4, 2009
EVERYTHING STARTS AS SOMETHING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND
All my paintings and neon come from a process of creating a new image every day. For seven years I did a painting every weekday, now I do daily drawings. This is partially out of respect for all of the people I know who work regular jobs, because I don't consider myself different from them. It's also partially out of an enjoyment of the freedom I have in my practice and a desire to push myself and see what I can come up with next. Finally, it's because I have an interest in maintaining a record of my intellectual development, for myself, and for anthropological purposes.
As part of my commitment to all of these things, it's my opinion that honesty plays an important role in choosing the images I make. What I take to be "honest" is a matter of paying attention to things that I'm genuinely interested in. To me this means listening to my biological and intellectual needs without worrying about looking socially unacceptable, smart, out of touch or pandering to my conscience. From any given series of ideas to draw or paint, I'll choose those that have a certain "electricity" to them, that hold my attention and get me excited or engaged.
In order to maintain vitality my process has to remain flexible. I can't hold myself to any one line of thought, a style, or subject matter. At the same time, I'm a slow learner, and there are certain things that seem to be limitless in their value to me, such as: wilderness landscapes, sex and violence. These particular subjects are due to things I imprinted on in my rural childhood, things I have attraction to as a male human and things related to social and cultural anxieties.
At this point in the evolution of this daily process (I'm about at the twelve year mark) most of the images that hold my attention come from a place that is best described as "peripheral". These are things that my deliberate mind is a little too dumb to run into on its linear path, but it can sometimes help out. Often, it's hard to recreate these images because it's like they're in the corner of my eye, and if I look directly at them, they change shape. Sometimes, I watch them roll through my head right before I go to sleep.
Almost all of my images are entirely invented. I only use photographs or other source materials as reference (in most cases), the way a writer would use a dictionary. It's my belief that invented images contain more nuanced information related to development. In addition, there's a pure rush of excitement that comes from making an image that didn't exist in the world before.
Over time, these peripheral images have gotten more complicated. Things like atmosphere, depth, dimension and details in character of people and places have gotten more specific and increased in their range of complexity (some of them are still pretty simple). The result is that I've broadened the spectrum of art that I look at to inform my painting. My painting process owes much to early American artists like Thomas Moran, Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, as well as other "traditional" painters like Frederic Remington, Caspar David Friedrich, Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. I feel a huge respect for their facility with paint, and I respond to their ability to create an environment and convey character.
Of course, the meat of my work is actually very little about standing on these men's shoulders, or even about relating to the art world at all. Far more important to maintaining vitality and "usefulness" to myself, and anyone else who may be interested in the development of someone from this time and place is the part of my process that I call "Field Research". By this I mean just going out and participating in the world the way a guy my age, of my upbringing, who lives where I do, would. This part of my job is pretty hard to do wrong. I just get to do the things that I want to do: hiking, surfing, taking road trips, spending time with friends, etc. The things that set my work apart from someone such as Thomas Moran, other than my interests (some might say quality), are in many cases simply products of my time: I can travel places in shorter time than he could, I have access to technology that allows me to see the world in different ways, maintain dialogs with many people easily and offer insights into things that might never have occurred to me otherwise, I also have an awareness of the changing of the world socially and environmentally ˆ all of this contributes to the sensibility of my work. I understand that the information in my work will be received in varying degrees by different viewers, but I hope that some usefulness can be obtained by anyone.