Puck, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 9", 2012
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I'm working on about 50 small paintings simultaneously right now. I'm starting or revisiting--depending on how you look at it--some very small paintings on canvas. I wanted to start some new work after reaching a stopping point with a recent series, but looking around the studio realized I have a glut of old work that I am not really close to anymore. So I'm recycling.
Can you describe your working routine?
I have a day job, and my wife and I have a 22 month old boy, so there's a lot of time-management and scheduling involved in my routine which basically involves working around job and family 2-3 nights during the week in the studio, and one day over the weekend. I do a lot of sketching with ink, crayon, pencil every day whenever there's a gap in my schedule. So, along these lines, before going to my job I've gotten into the routine/ritual of sketching in the park beforehand. I sketch later on my lunch. And at night after work if I can't make it to the studio, I work on some watercolor and pencil drawings on the couch, or drawings on my iPad or phone.
Pencil sketch of the Taco Bell parking lot across from my studio
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I have a studio in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn which has a nice view of midtown Manhattan in the distance and a Taco Bell in the foreground. I share it with another artist who I have only seen once in all the months I've been there, so it's almost like having my own space which is important for me as I don't work well with someone else in the room. The space itself has a certain bearing on my work that I haven't figured out yet. I've worked in a tiny spare bedroom in a former apartment on some very large-scaled canvases. I think that working in that cramped space on such large paintings makes it hard to see the space inside the painting and maybe that's a good thing, to work somewhat blindly that way. Conversely, I have a lot of working space right now but am working on small-scaled works that I tend to stand very far back from to look at when I'm just looking. So in a way I'm just as blind about the space painting those. I work best when I have a nice view outside, and maybe that’s a lonesomeness thing.
Acrylic on canvas paintings in progress, 2012, 10"x10"
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
It’s hard to pinpoint where things begin and evolve with me. Drawing is important to my painting. But there is reciprocity between them with ideas/influence flowing back and forth. I work on a lot of paintings at the same time with dialogue between them as well. Everything plays off of everything else. Sometimes when I stumble in a good idea I have to go back and work over what I thought was a good idea in something I felt satisfied with a week or year ago. Like many other artists, I'd say drawings help me locate ideas, marks, color, for the paintings. When I turn to painting, however, it's hard to stay true 100% of the time to the template I thought a series of drawings had established. Departures happen as a result of accident, frustration, ineptitude, and the difficulty of translating the muscle movements involved in drawing into the act of painting. I think the circumstances I have just described are common among artists who move from drawing to painting. Drawing feels more acoustic and disciplined than painting. In painting, I get a lot of feedback that can't be controlled. I always reach a point of anger and disgust in a work which I think is an essential part of my process.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
Everything. But I don’t think of this as trouble really. I don't think of any of my work as being resolved. I mean I do, in moments, but there are so many ways to finish something, resolved doesn’t seems like the clearest way to describe how I look at a work I've stopped working on. Maybe there's some word in a dead language that means essentially "the work has just stopped, sort of".
Untitled (a work that just stopped, sort of), 2012,
enamel on wood panel, 72”x48”
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I basically paint and draw using mostly the usual media and supports associated with those forms. I do a good bit of spray painting and digital drawing, if that counts as different. I've made paintings on aluminum that I hired an auto body shop to finish. But I still think I've remained true to a fairly narrow band of working, even though many of my art heroes do some pretty wacky stuff with varied materials. I just haven't gone there yet.
What does the future hold for this work?
Things that are related to question number 6. I’d like to explore different materials, different approaches to support/presentation, avoid squares.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I really appreciate this invitation to discuss my work and process Valerie. Thank you. I am sure I would answer these questions differently in time, maybe even by the time I get home from work tonight. In fact, I am sure after I send you these answers I am going to wish I had answered everything another way.
Washington Square Park drawing, 2011,
crayon and ink on paper, 8”x5”