Artist Statements, Illustration & Conceptual Art:

The inherent danger in artist statements is that they invariably turn one’s work into an illustration of some conceptual theme. In other words, the art illustrates the statement rather than the statement describing the art. That is fine for conceptual artists and designers where the idea and plan precede the work, but my painting is more direct and immediate than that, more the product of groomed reflex than the methodical and technical realization of pre-existing concepts. Even though there are some over-arching concepts in place before I begin any painting that give the work stylistic continuity and identity - mostly very general and adaptable formal and process-based parameters that I value enough to continue their practice - each painting is an absolutely new improvisation that occurs at a unique moment in time, an indivisible synthesis of the known and unknown.

Range & Variety:

I begin each painting with the intention of using a wide variety of shape types and sizes, different methods of application, of covering the full range of values and tonalities of the palette I am working with, and incorporating as many directions as necessary within the four sides of a canvas. With each painting I am looking to generate alien and unfamiliar shapes, marks and effects that I have never used or seen before, because a dimension of each of my work sessions is dedicated to invention and discovery, not simply making a successful painting. But I also use formal elements and methods that I have used successfully in the past and am familiar with. So there is a continual blending of the familiar with the introduction of new approaches and devices.

Invention & Manufacturing, Spontaneity & Improvisation:

Ideally, I strive for the same degree of unpredictability and suspense that you would expect from a jazz musician who is spontaneously improvising over familiar terrain, whose personal intent conforms with the medium’s standards of avoiding repetition and redundancy at all cost while maintaining a consistently recognizable voice. Any competent technician can repeat him or herself ad infinitum, can manufacture with some degree of embellishment an original or appropriated prototype over and over again. But creators and originators have the added burden and responsibility of fresh invention and all that that entails.

The terms “spontaneous” and “improvisation” are often used interchangeably to signify the same thing, but they are very different things. Spontaneity is time-based and means something is done instantaneously without laborious premeditation. Improvisation is a way of creating without a premeditated plan over time, sometimes a very short period of time, sometimes much longer. One can improvise in a way that is not spontaneous, and one can perform spontaneously something that is predetermined. Never is a “complex” painting that is being improvised over time composed in its entirety spontaneously. The mark-making and applications might be spontaneous, but the overall venture is cumulative.

Series vs. Sequence, Work Habits;

I never work on more than one painting at a time, so periods of my work can be read more as sequences than as a series of paintings. A series of paintings will have a more homogenous look than a sequence which is more heterogeneous. A series will look fundamentally the same - same surface size, palette, fundamental design - whereas a sequence will have more variety and invention, though one painting or cluster of paintings within the sequence will impact and influence other paintings in the sequence.

I consider each piece a stepping stone to the next piece whether the paintings are successes that remain in my body of work or failures that are destroyed. It is not unusual that three pieces will be destroyed before one is successful and kept, and I consider those failures necessary preliminaries to the finished successful piece. Painting and art-making for me is about “frame of mind” since it is happening in the moment and evidence of a mood or emotional state. So it is not uncommon that a successful painting will require a number of failed attempts before my head is in the right place. Typically I will begin working at 7:00 a.m. and work as intensely and with as much focus as I am capable of and with as little disruption as possible until I am done. An average work day can go from early morning until midnight with barely any rest other than intense analysis when appropriate. If a piece goes into a second, third or fourth day, the hours remain the same, oftentimes with very little sleep. I am trying to capture and imprint as much emotion, intensity, and integration as possible onto my work. So the idea of stretching pieces out for long periods of time or working on multiple pieces simultaneously defeats the goal of intense emotional connection, focus, and deep involvement.

Titling:

My decision to use the dates of completion as titles instead of some literal phrase or name is based on two things. First, the paintings are abstract and open-ended and shouldn’t be defined or hemmed in in any way by a literal title. Secondly is my desire to not fully resolve or “finish” a painting, which is not to be confused with not completing a painting. Nothing slams the door shut on a painting’s capacity to remain in interpretive flux more than a title, even an arbitrary or meaningless one.

Abstraction & Representation:

While my work should be considered purely abstract in the strictest sense, there is some element of representation built in, because my paintings are direct and immediate representations or testimonials of their own becoming. Each painting is the byproduct and record of “my grappling to be visually manifest and comprehensible to myself” during any given studio session or sessions. I expect each abstract painting to read as a unique narrative with the same kind of structural syntax you would expect from the most popular representational forms.

Showing Art:

While some of the paintings are fairly uncomplicated, others are more difficult, layered with the battering and scarring of chaotic studio circumstances. I strive to keep my work loose and relaxed, but it should not be considered “provisional” or “casual” painting which is very popular today. My paintings are fully realized but “crafted” to look spontaneous and immediate. Ideally, I hope they are challenging enough to demand attention but rewarding enough to justify whatever hurdles might exist when they are first encountered. Most of all I would like a painting to stick in the viewer’s heart and head like a favorite song, because without the capacity to impact and connect with the viewer in any substantially positive way the practice of showing and sharing art seems petty and pointless.