Thursday, October 2, 2014
In Vocation, 2014, oil on canvas, 20" x 16"
What are you working on in your studio right now?
Currently I am concentrating on 42" x 36" paintings with smaller works in the periphery. In the next month I will begin a group of 72" x 60" paintings. It has been many years since I have worked at this scale so there is an anticipation I am enjoying before I begin.
Can you describe your working routine?
I am usually in the studio by 10 am, rarely do I immediately enter into painting. I typically spend an hour just looking at what was done the previous day and try to prepare myself for reentry into the work. My goal every morning in the studio is to dissolve the day. I find the best work is created when I lose track of time, afternoon becomes evening and I have not ceased activity once. I wish these days came more frequently but honestly I struggle a great deal, I redraw paintings, I make notes, and I try to rid my studio of extraneous work. When I feel I am hitting a dead-end or not attaining desired focus I find physical exercise clears my mind, interval training at the local soccer field seems to work best. Rigorous exercise gives me clarity and makes me feel prepared for the studio.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I work out of a home studio that is quite small (200 sq ft) and inevitably the paintings move into the entire house. In addition to taking over flow from my studio the house is filled with an ever-growing collection of art, antiques, books, and records all of which are important to my creative process. I am very fortunate my wife enjoys living in a visually dense space but for me spending most of my day in the studio/home I often wish for more room.
It is important for me to keep our home and my studio organized, I am always trying to impose some order on the chaos that is our living space. Similarly the space limitations of my studio require removal of anything unnecessary to my work. I find this practice reflected in my paintings, constantly adding layers of color and form, simultaneously trying to arrive at a refined powerful image. This seemingly contradictory struggle is something that keeps me engaged with my work and I feel in my most successful paintings the reward is a sense of visual and psychological tension.
Assimilation Power Form v.14 Red Shift,
2014, oil on canvas, 42" x 36"
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
A lot of my time is spent reading, taking notes, and making small loose sketches. I find writing quick notations, recording phrases, or making simple written lists often stimulates drawings that can become a portal to explore an idea in the form of a two-dimensional image. Most paintings are started with these preliminary drawings or informed by existing works. If feeling stifled or inhibited and a new course is desired I respond with accident and chance making marks and forms intuitively until I find a passage into a painting. Regardless of my entry point, once an image emerges I am able to start making critical decisions that will determine the identity of the work. I can spend anywhere from two weeks to eight months on a painting. Although I am trying to finish paintings faster these days, I do not determine the success of a painting based upon the amount of time spent. Some paintings are realized with relative ease others demand more attention. Either course long or short will lead to one of two things a new image or a new beginning.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
I am in the process of scaling up the size of my paintings and my available space is a major concern. I tend to work on five to ten paintings at once, which congests my studio. I certainly do not have the room to work in this manner at a larger scale.
Top: Untitled, 2014, oil on paper, 11" x 8 1/2"
Below: Untitled, 2014, oil on paper, 11" x 8 1/2"
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
Experimentation is crucial to my image making process but not much in terms of materials. I keep traditional oil painting mediums as my primary tools for manifesting an image. I experiment with process and mark making in pursuit of strong visual imagery and psychological tension. I try to vary the methods in which I apply paint, the amount of time I spend on each work, and whether I attempt to follow a path of intuition or determination. Parameters set for myself typically consist of scale, orientation, and color. I find that restricting physical characteristics of the work invites deeper psychic involvement.
What does the future hold for this work?
Over the next four months I am focusing on a group of paintings to be exhibited at TOPS Gallery in Memphis, TN in March 2015. TOPS is one of the most innovative spaces in the southeastern United States, the subterranean gallery has a mood and energy unlike any other in this region.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you Valerie for giving me this opportunity to discuss the day-to-day aspects of painting. Sites like StudioCritical and some other personal favorites AbstractCritical, StructureAndImagery, CuratingContemporary, and PaintersTable make being an artist outside of the major art centers of the world much easier. I appreciate your interest and support of artists across the globe.
On Return, 2014, oil on panel, 14" x 11"