The Falconer @ Rest II, oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2011
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I was invited by the Silas Marder Gallery to submit 3 canvases each 8” x 10” for an annual group show this Spring. I usually hate due dates but this is an excellent opportunity to introduce my work to a new community in the Hamptons on Long Island, NY. So it has focused my efforts in the studio but I still need to keep my normal creative process going. These 3 small canvases are the inheritor of my other labors and it’s been surprisingly fun.
Can you describe your working routine?
Fortunately I live and work at home. I need to putter, make a cup of coffee, answer emails, pop into my studio and see where I left off the last working session and then catch 10 minutes of news before I settle down to some serious fun in the studio in the afternoon. I read my journal to remember what I was doing the days before. I teach two days a week and so there is some re-entry process from being out of the studio. I break for dinner and then in the evening realize that the day’s efforts are usually but a warm up for the hours of painting to come.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
For many years I had a rather large live/work loft in Tribeca, NYC. Lots of wall space, which allowed me to pin up dozens of works on paper, sources and other things that interested me, as well as a many works in- progress. I lately moved to a smaller traditional house, the only one I’ve lived in since my childhood, and it has necessitated the editing down my whole process into a micro version of itself. I’ve also reduced the size of my canvases to accommodate the smaller studio, once a living room. I have a separate “dinning room” where I move works I want to live with and consider if they are actually done or not.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
I’m 62 now and I have this large vocabulary to draw from, imagery found a decade ago is available and malleable. The poet Yeats called it his “circus animals” he could bring out on stage to perform. The issue is to animate them anew while all the time looking to expand one’s vocabulary. So the question is what do I paint today, what needs to be said and how best to do that? I always have a number of canvases going creating a dialogue between things that frees me to take the chances I need in my work. I will run with themes seeing which canvas realizes it best freeing the others to then spin off and improvise yet further variations or something new altogether. Of course things take their own course regardless of what I intended and there are always surprises in how things unfold. We start with a kind of monologue on the canvas that then needs to turn into a dialogue.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
I am on a wonderful creative moment and things emerge each time I work that surprise me. Sometimes the whole process collapses, what was a presence in a previous painting now is just a cartoon of its self, it’s frightening but part of the making of things. I work my way through these times very quickly right now fortunately.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I like gouache, oil paint and encaustic, lead foil, wood, plaster and canvas. Just the sight of these materials in my studio thrills me. These days I am painting in oils on canvas or wood panels and experimenting with mediums. There are periods of expansion and ones of consolidation. It’s a talent to know where one should be in one’s process.
Stapleton Rainbow, oil & media on canvas, 20" x 16", 2010
What does the future hold for this work?
I hope they end up in wonderful collections and be seen by lots of people if that’s what you mean. I have a one- person show coming in September of 2012 with the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY. I also love living with my work and often return them to the studio months later with a better understanding of what’s possible.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve stated that my paintings are a personal odyssey, a vehicle to carry me forward and find some deeper unity in what is happening in and around me. I believe the making of a painting needs that moment of epiphany and a trace of how the imagery conveyed through paint was discovered and experienced by the artist. Not a graphic notation of the language of experience but the mystery of it. And thanks for this opportunity to share my work.