Art allows people to express themselves and their personal human experience and then remove themselves from that expression. Then someone else can form a personal connection to it and see himself or herself reflected back. When this works, we find we are connected to each other and often feeling the same things. It’s the sensation of your favorite song that totally understands you and was written just for you – about you and about your personal experience. That song or work of art can even become a means for you to express yourself. When this works, we don’t think about the artist or songwriter; we think about the experience, the expression, and the resonating truth that we are connecting to. This is what art can do, and it is very comforting.
Oil on Linen
Paint lends itself well to this organic dialogue. I prefer to experiment rather than rely on technical experience alone. I like to expand and explore the possibilities and accidents. I like to create a surface that only a human hand could create, that only time and attention could make space for, and that fossilizes the intimacy of touch. It is sometimes delicate, sometimes aggressive, sometimes hesitant, and sometimes playful. The surface is not slick or smooth in my recent paintings. It is weathered, rough, and distressed, but hopefully rich and luminous as well. I paint imagined landscapes this way as well, which also provide a space for the portraits to inhabit as they hang alongside the portrait.
For me, the compulsion to paint starts with a simple curiosity. I wonder what it’s going to look like if I mix one color with another and add something else. As the image develops, this thing starts looking back at me and becomes my friend, my self, my own feelings and experience. And I can create a dialogue with it. The compulsion vacillates between curiosity and empathy and it feels like I am with someone and trying to connect with him or her.
Oil on Linen
One thing that can ease our hearts and minds in this unpredictable human experience is the feeling that we are connected, seen and understood. My intent in this body of work is to reach into the visual representation of another person and extract the essence of human presence. I want my paintings to be an expression of the vulnerability and desire to belong. We rarely stop to really look at each other, without thinking, judging, solving, and strategizing. I want my paintings to create that blissful experience of really being seen and understood.
I like to create a surface that only a human hand could create, that only time and attention could make space for, and that fossilizes the intimacy of touch.
Oil on Panel
My subjects are typically people with whom I share deep connections. After some time, hopefully, they relax into the moment and reveal their true self, vulnerable and pure, honest and beautiful. I’ve discovered that painting people this way is, in itself, a means of connecting to others and making them feel seen and loved. This process has also give me quite a different way of seeing the world. I feel more curious and less analytical, more at ease and less tense. I know that everything I’m feeling, someone else has felt.
The most satisfying moments are when I reach another person and he or she becomes disarmed, outside their self-consciousness or ego. Senses are opened and awakened, the heart is exposed and we know each other. No words are needed except, “I understand.” We’ve all had that moment when we are so engaged in a moment that we forget the idea that we are separate from each other. And we’re just there. At home. Belonging.
Evolve, 32x48in, Oil on Linen, 2012 Consent, 64x86in, Oil on Linen, 2013