There are many times when I do not know what to draw or paint but I have the urge to make something. These drawings were made when I had a train ride. Sometimes it’s easiest just to do something simple.
For me, sometimes things are more beautiful in process than they are finished. It’s about their potential. When I’m working on something I don’t know how it is going to turn out in the end. Sure, I have an idea and I might even be trying to emulate something I see. But there are endless decisions in the process of making art, and painting and drawing allow a lot of spontaneity.
This painting took a long time to figure out. I’ve included the different steps and the finished work in the post to give an idea of how the painting of Ben was made. I do multiple layers. A lot of times the first steps are just getting something down that I can work with. You can see that I painted over a lot of details that I initially had.
Sometimes when I paint I get attached to the photo(s) that I’m working from. When I first started I thought getting my painting to look exactly like a photo was the best thing ever. I still feel that way a little but I’m branching out. Recently I’ve been thinking more about what suits the painting. What should go into the painting and what should come out. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my process. When is a painting done? I think there are multiple points that a painting can be done and that I can stop. What keeps me going is the image in my head and what I’m aiming for.
I was talking to a friend about making larger work verses working in my sketchbook or doing small watercolors. She asked me if it’s more stressful and if I worried more about messing up when doing larger work.
Thinking about it, I understand where she is coming from. A lot of people worry about what is going to come out when they paint or draw. They say “I can’t even draw a stick figure.” or “I don’t know what to paint.” The trouble with being an adult and doing something you’re not used to is that you worry that you are going to do something wrong. But with art, you have the opportunity to do something just for the sake of doing it. If you can learn to enjoy the process nothing is wrong or right. It’s just taking you on the path to where you are going.
This past Christmas, I recieved 11 blank canvases. When I looked at all the canvases I was pretty happy because most of them were pretty large. My self portrait, seen above, is 30×40 inches. Large surfaces allow me to paint more freely. It also makes it feel easier to do things that I feel rusty at. Portraits and representational art are examples of that. I thought that a self portrait would be a good way to get back into painting people.
I’m excited to see where my work goes from here. I have a show at the Victor Selman Gallery in DC this June. The reception is on the 8th at 6pm. The show will be up from the 7th to the morning of the 22nd. I’m hoping to have eight new paintings by that time. Right now I have about six. It feels good to be producing more and have a way to share what I’ve done.
During college I was working very hard on this painting of a drawbridge. I wanted to get all the details from my photo. I wanted the light and shadow. I wanted the train tracks and the metal beams around them, the wooden underpinnings. I spent a lot of time on that painting. Then one day, I was walking into the studio and the head of the art department called out “Is it art yet?”
It’s funny thinking back to that painting. I did about three bridge paintings with train tracks and they all found homes. I was very proud of them. However, my teacher had a point. How long do you need to work on something before it’s art? The truth is that art can be anything so you can put as little or as much work into the actual product as you want. I don’t mean to get into a discussion of what art is. However, I think it’s important to note that this gives artists a lot of flexibility, to go between abstraction and representational art, between finished and unfinished products. And I think that’s part of what makes art expressive and fun.
“Death and Life” was inspired by a photo I took at one of the Metro stations in DC and the painting “Death and Life” by Gustav Klimt. Essentially both images had a baby in my brain. I wanted something overwhelming and bright.
Some people have asked me about the crosses. Crosses cover the garments of Death in Klimt’s painting and I really like the effect and how it looks. I included a skull so that the reference would be clearer.
Eugene is my elephant. He has been with me since before college which says a lot because college was 12 years ago. It’s possible that he came in a happy meal. The print above was his first appearance in my work. It was an assignment for my printmaking class at Drew and I think I was having a very hard time deciding what to make images of in that class. That is the foundation of my relationship with this stuffed elephant. I draw him when I have no idea about what to draw…and squares sometimes.
Now Eugene has his own shelf in my studio. He sits right behind where I paint my pictures, quietly. He makes appearances on my instagram account on occasion too.
I recently was inspired by my continuing education in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) to paint snakes. I know that probably sounds like a big jump in topics. However, some of my classmates said that’s what they were seeing when they were receiving or giving BCST sessions.
The snakes below are Brazilian rainbow boas.