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Archive for November 19th, 2009

This is a painting from back in 2002 titled Muse.  It was part of a series I was painting at that time, in the months after 9/11, that some of my galleries still call my Dark Work. It was painted in a style that I call my obsessionist style these days, meaning that it is painted by building layers of color over a dark ground as opposed to the reductive style I have used so much in the past where I apply a lot of wet paint, puddles, then pull it off the surface until I reach the desired effect.

When I was doing these paintings they seemed like a stark contrast to the reductive work, especially given the tone of that time.  They were well received although not with same gusto as the lighter, more transparent,  work.  I felt very strongly about this work but allowed my desire to please the galleries need for my most sellable work override my desire to pursue this work to further levels.  I moved back to primarily painting the wetter reductive work and was able to continue to push that work further through color and texture.  I never regretted the move back to this work but there was always a little nagging voice in the back of my mind that I hadn’t pushed the other work to its full destination and had let outside influences hinder an inner process.

I have begun to see my body of work as my own personal narrative, the story of who I am and how I am seeing my world at any given time.  In order for it to be so it must be an honest and complete reflection, guided by my own inner muse and not outside forces telling me what I should or should not do.  It took a while but I realized that I have the ability and right to control my own personal narrative, to tell my story in my own way.

I’ve done this in many ways for years already.  I am constantly given ideas for paintings or am requested to do commissions but seldom do I follow up on them unless they fit in with where I see my work heading.  In that aspect, I normally reject outside influence.  I stick to my narrative.

The piece above, Muse, actually fits this post well in that it now belongs to a man who asked me to do a painting of his son, a truly gifted guitarist.  He sent me photos and they were wonderful.  He was long and lanky with a really interesting ethereal  look, a portrait painter’s dream.  In fact when I looked at the pictures I could only see him as painted by other painters I know.  I struggled for a while trying to do something with this but in the end I realized it wasn’t part of who I was at that point, not part of my narrative.  I let it slide and after a long while, apologetically explained this to the father who was extremely gracious.

So I am back focusing more, at this time, on this obsessionist work, allowing it to be a bigger part of my story.  I will continue to paint in the other style but I just feel that there is something waiting to be told, something to be discovered in this other work at this time.  That is my decision made without outside influence, my choice for my personal narrative.

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