Fun House, oil on canvas, 28 x 22", 2013
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I am trying some smaller oil paintings, canvases of about 16 x 12 inches. And continuing to work on paintings of 40 x 30" and larger. I’ve done a lot of work in between those two sizes, but am currently interested in the contrast between small and large.
New oils on canvas, each 16 x 22",2013
Can you describe your working routine?
Midday through evening is the best studio time for me, for as many days a week as I can manage. Extended periods are better than short bursts. That’s why attempts to clear my desk (down the hall) occur in the morning or late evening. Right now I’m back to oil painting, although I recently spent about a month working on paper: one series using oil sticks, and the other using water-based casein paints.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio is in my home. It’s a room of about 240 square feet, with two Southern windows and good overhead “daytime” fluorescent lights. Last summer I added an 8' x 4' wall, which gave me more working surfaces and additional storage space. I wanted to be able to stand away from single works in progress without having anything else in my line of sight. Storage areas have to be organized pretty tightly. There are definite benefits to having my studio at hand when things like documentation are needed, or I just need to wander in for a look. The smallness of the space, however, does force me to separate canvas sessions from paper sessions. And probably it has hindered my attempting much larger work, which I am now trying to address.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Color is the instigator. Glimpses of things I see trigger the physical sensation of wanting to paint, which is in turn very much tied to my love of gesture, and long ago, of figure drawing. My desire is to create form out of color. I no longer keep reference material posted in my studio, but prefer to open my book collection randomly in order to jump start or remind myself of that sensation. With this current smaller work, I have two or three canvases ready at the same time, and they are laid flat because I work in layers, wet on wet, with the paint on the liquid side. It is a very suspenseful process. If I lose either the structure or a sense of interior light, the whole thing gets scraped down. What I am after is a point where I have somehow managed to create a gestural grid that works as a structural space, and where things almost dissolve into chaos, but don’t.
Yellow Swipe, oil on canvas, 16 x 12", 2013
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
I am trying to resolve how much to take out before losing everything. Which sounds odd because my process is very sticky and additive. I only ever want to build or create what is necessary: when things feel artificial, I start over again. Sometimes I give up on a work, essentially making destruction the subject, by paintings things out, which is how I discover new things. The process of negating can turn into what I was after all along: to create a new space where the eye is held for a while, and then allowed to be released.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I spent a long time working my way to oil painting, particularly on canvas, and so that is my primary interest. I got to painting through printmaking, mainly stone lithography, because of its luscious line quality. Later I moved to monoprinting and eventually started painting in oil on multi-panel wood constructions that I made myself. It finally seemed to me that I’d been avoiding certain formal issues and that working on the single plane of the comparatively lighter-weight canvas or linen would unify all. Experimentation with different materials occurs more readily on paper, where I move between ink, watercolor, and now mainly casein, a gouache-like paint that suits my layer-based process.
Line on Line Series,
recent caseins on paper, 13 x 11", 2013
What does the future hold for this work?
Variations and paths are always presenting themselves. I would follow each of them if only the studio was larger. I think that is the desire behind the newer small paintings: to run through some new ideas a bit faster. So for now I’m just going where my hand leads me.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me here. Your blog has been so informative and helpful. The more I see and read about what other artists do, the more I think that what painters want most is to surprise themselves. In this there is a not-so-simple element of play, and something specifically about making things by hand that provides a very basic pleasure. It’s great when that pleasure gets communicated well, as I so often see here.