Category / Medium: Paintings / Drawings - Acrylic, Encaustic and Cold Wax, Oil, Mixed Media
Favorite nearby restaurant: Downtown Subscription
I approach art the way I approach life: eclectically, experimentally, tactilely. It has not always been so. When I was a young artist, Minimalism and Conceptualism dominated the art world, and fitting into that construct was my primary goal. Tony DeLap and John McCracken were my instructors; Sol LeWitt and Frank Stella were my heroes. My mentors were mostly sculptors—so I mostly produced the same. In Minimalism, there is a repetition of simple geometric forms, hard-edged, preplanned, clean and precise, many times monochromatic or containing a limited palette. In Conceptual Art, the concept or idea of the work is more important than any traditional aesthetic or material concern. At its most extreme, only a description of an artwork is pinned to the gallery wall. Figurative art was an F-word. Ultimately, I dropped out of the art scene and put my mathematical interests to use making a living. I became a Remote Sensing specialist, interpreting satellite and airphoto imagery of the Earth for land-use and environmental management applications. My visual acuity greatly aided my numerical skills in understanding such imagery. Eventually, I had to return to the visual arts, but this time from a very different perspective: older, wiser, not needing the art world’s approval. Printmaking— line etchings, solar etchings, linocuts—attracted me at first, which let me continue my scientific bent through timing acid baths, measuring exposures, setting press pressures. A decade ago, painting—encaustic, oil, acrylic—became my focus and my metamorphosis was complete. The Minimalist had become an abstract expressionist. Clean precise surfaces changed to irregular highly-textured topographies. Hard-edge calculations gave way to painterly spontaneity. The process turned out to be the art form. Putting the first brushstroke on the empty background, then responding to the first with the second mark, and then the third, and so on…. Often starting with molding paste or gel to add texture to the wooden panel substrate, applied with tools that leave parallel lines or hollows, plastered on with palette knife through net bags that once held avocados or oranges and that create irregular grids when removed…. Scraping away paint with dental tools, applying dot patterns through drywall tape or stencils, drawing over or under paint with charcoal, pencil, or Sharpie…. Sometimes integrating collage and found objects into the paint—pages from an old logarithm book, handmade papers, prints of computer-enhanced satellite images, patterned insides of envelopes, pieces of wood, white sand, torn strips of raw canvas…. Inevitably, I may arrive at a place where there is no way forward, no place to add that additional brushstroke or drawn line, no place to install a found object. If the piece is not finished and cannot be completed from here, removing parts and layers is necessary. Power-sanding the surface to reveal partial underlying layers, chiseling away unsuccessful attempts, simply painting over and starting again…. At other times, arriving at a place where there is no way forward becomes the final composition. This termination of activity happens by a means that I cannot explain. I think it is the magic that makes art.