I’m magnetically drawn to subjects for their history, irony, isolation and/or beauty, reminding me of who we are, where we’ve been and where we may be going. Most often these are sights people see every day, but fail to truly “see.” It may be a repurposed building, an abandoned site, a nostalgic movie theater, a classic car or an isolated landscape. The old, historic and repurposed subjects trigger my imagination. I wonder what they were like in their heyday, what they are like right now, and what will they look like in the future.
I typically paint in oils, using the age-old fat-over-lean technique, building layers upon layer. Often the first layer is reminiscent of a watercolor – lots of paint thinner and little pigment – with subsequent layers, including more and more pigment until the final layer is nearly 100% pigment. Sometimes I paint the wash or first layer in a complementary (opposite) color to the final layer. I’ve found this can create an unusual depth of color.
Many artists paint every painting with a relatively large palette of colors – maybe 15 in total. One of the unique methods to my madness is that for each painting, I select a white (e.g. zinc or titanium) and then pairs of complementary colors, and then use only those colors in creating the painting. As a result, some paintings contain only two or three pairs of complements, for a total of only four or six colors. So, I achieve all the colors in the painting by mixing only these few pigments together – and typically only two pigments are combined at a time as I believe the colors are more vibrant than if three or more pigments are mixed together. They may become muddied.
I believe there must be something unique about my paintings beyond that of a photograph – if my painting is just like the photograph, then what’s the point of a painting? Depending on what grabs me when I first spot the subject, I typically work to emphasize light and shadow, as well as distance and depth – again with the use of color and detail – or lack of it. For example, cooler, lighter colors tend to recede, while warmer colors tend to feel close. Details are lost in the distance, but become clearer, the closer they are to the viewer.
In the end, I hope the methods to my madness create a bit of a surreal image, and evoke the emotions in the viewer - some sense of the history, irony, isolation or beauty - that snagged my imagination in the first place.