Painting is immediate, you dont have to invest the time that literature, dance or music demand. This is the both blessing and curse. Through a singular visual experience one can be moved with gut wrenching intensity. Naturally, this is a plus. The minus part of a visual encounter is that it doesnt demand much of us; one can easily cast a quick, and dismissive glimpse and move on. Naturally, all artists want to generate that moving experience, but that is not enough. A really good painting, according to me, leaves you slightly altered, with a nagging sense that you havent quite gotten all of it yet. This is where the wheat separates from the chaff. It is also responsible for leading one on a life long journey to figure it out; unravel just what it takes to get there.
I was always interested in drawing and painting the figure. For most of my life I worked from direct observation convinced that some elusive, essential truth would reveal itself under the persistence of sustained viewing. And sometimes it did. For much of my career I couldnt afford models (and the specificity of an individual was, well, too specific) so I painted mostly interiors and still lives. I was infatuated with the ordinary, the happened upon and the overlooked: a purveyor of poetry nestled in between the crevices of the commonplace. The figure was too weighty and just too (overt).
But then, by increments, figures made their way into my work with greater frequency. Always interested in relationships, inclusion of a figure or two expanded my ability weave a narrative exponentially. I became fascinated by the chemistry of suggestion and its ripple effect on comprehension, concept and content. Telling or suggesting a story has always been of interest. The absence of figures had its advantage: less specific and, therefore broader and more ambiguous. But the figure intensifies the situation. Sea Lampreys populating a dock might seem random, but the addition of a character from Ingres and a gaggle of twenty-somethings present a myriad of possibilities.
My latest body of work let go of the literal, the sensible, and expected in favor of the fanciful, mythical and fictive. In my new found autonomy, I can create the visual dramas in which I can introduce figures and jury-rig the space so characters emerge and begin to take on their own magical roles and relationships. After so many years of painting, I ask myself why is this so intoxicating? The short answer is that I believe that orchestrating a visual world, recognizable or not, is the shortest route to reach my definition of a good painting. But, more than that, it believe it to be one of the surest avenues to obtain gratitude. By that I mean, the gratitude to experience the experience.