Friday, January 27, 2012


Untitled, oil paint & rubber foam on board,
5.5 x 7.5", 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I’m really excited about a diptych that I think I’ve recently developed to a point at which I can let it be. The piece is shown in the photo above and I think that it’s a breakthrough of sorts for me. So the story goes: I was in my studio with two blank 4 x 4’ stretched canvases. I began painting one of them (the entirely pink one on your right) and was getting my ass kicked badly. I couldn’t turn it into an interesting painting for the life of me. Well, 3 a.m. rolled around and I could hardly stand any longer so I decided to call it a night and leave tormented with my tail between my legs. I had just turned off the lights and was exiting through my studio door when suddenly I envisioned myself slamming the face of the blank canvas against the face of the painting that had been kicking my ass all night. It seemed like sheer desperation, yet I abided by the impulse.

I walked back into my studio, grabbed the blank canvas and slammed it against the painted one. I then rotated the more recently blank canvas 90 degrees CCW and slammed it against the ass-kicking canvas again. I then rotated the more recently blank canvas yet another 90 degrees CCW and slammed it against the ass-kicking canvas one more time. I then set the more recently painted canvas which now consisted of transferred impressions of the ass-kicking canvas down and became inspired to continue to paint on the ass-kicking canvas some more. At about 5 a.m. I had finally transformed the ass-kicking canvas into a very dark and strangely interesting painting and noticed that while kicking the ass of the ass-kicking canvas I had splattered paint all over the canvas that now consisted of the impressions of a former state-of-being of the ass-kicking canvas. I thought the canvas consisting of impressions of the ass-kicking canvas was beautiful yet need one more thing, so on its right side I added a pink square.

So there I was with two dramatically different looking paintings that were by process entangled. I lived with the paintings for a couple of months enjoying them mostly separately as I was very interested in their relationship yet felt very unfulfilled by the depth of their relationship. I felt that the relationship between the two paintings lacked reciprocation and closure in that the ass-kicking painting seemed to be of enormous influence on the painting consisting of its impression while the painting consisting of the ass-kicking painting’s impression didn’t have much influence over the ass-kicking painting. Anyway, while recently painting the ass-kicking painting pink I accidentally dropped my palette and splattered pink paint on the painting that consists of the impression of the ass-kicking painting.

Other than that, I currently have a variety of different focuses going on in my studio. From aggressively broken paintings on glass and plexi-glass to tight formalist sculptural abstract paintings to minimalist folded paintings on paper to found-object sculpture to collage. I try to maintain a studio environment that is conducive to continual discovery and surprise. I’m having a blast!

Can you describe your work routine?

I work as much as possible, whenever I have time. As a husband, father and artist who works a lot, I’ve managed to become quite good at juggling these three priorities. I usually work at night after the family has gone to sleep. I thrive in the solitude of the night. I am usually a sleep deprived mad man while making things.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.?

That depends on what level of process we’re talking about. If I’m looking for a new process through which I can develop a new type of work, I consider everything around me as a potential medium that just needs to be manipulated through a just process. If I’m working on an individual piece, it starts with one decision and then another in response, and so on and so forth until the individual work possesses its own unique logic and enigma. I obsess over my work, so I’m thinking about it constantly. This obsession almost always leads to breakthroughs, as long as I’m on the right path.

work in progress

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I am currently an MFA student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My studio is on the 17th floor of a building on Michigan Avenue. The building faces east and has panoramic windows, so the view of Lake Michigan is amazing. My studio is fairly small, maybe 15’ x15’, but I love it. I’m surrounded by very interesting artists with very diverse approaches to making things. I don’t think I’ve ever been so inspired. I’ve only recently moved to Chicago from South Dakota, so living and working within a major urban environment is quite exciting. I’ve made things here that I know I wouldn’t have made back home.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?


Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I work with many different materials and am very particular about materials and the context in which they are used. In my mixed-media practice, material and process are inseparable in that a process is birthed from a material. In any case, this whole consisting of both material and process, must lend itself to a number of process/outcome-based experiential qualities such as, and in no particular order: immediacy, economy, uniqueness and believability, just to name a few. The process is the outcome.

Untitled, oil paint & rubber foam on board,
8.5 x 10.75", 2012

What does the future hold for this work?

I don’t know, that’s part of the fun of it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for all of your work Valerie. Thanks for having me. This is an honor. It’s been fun.

Untitled, oil paint & plastic frame, 12" tall, 2011


  1. Great work!

    Thanks for posting Valerie.

  2. Thanks Paul, you too! This was a lot of fun Valerie. Keep up the fantastic work.

  3. The ass-kicking canvas story made my day. Your studio looks glorious. I miss you.