On the most basic level, I paint because the experience of seeing and being in the world is so fundamentally mysterious and unfathomable that I turn to painting to appreciate it and to express what its like to live in it. Paintings are illusions: a flat canvas becomes a three dimensional world where every part has been made through human eyes and hands. When it is working there is a life to it. Rendering life as an ode to life.
There is a musicality to my process because I am looking for rhythm, melody and harmony in each composition. I find these elements unifying and soothing, and this translation somehow makes the world more comprehensible and joyful.
I look to reveal little moments of grace and tension in everyday life in my work. The paintings are about our interwoveness and our separateness; this world as it is, but also seeing into other worlds–the limitlessness of our imagination, which we turn to for comfort or fuel or freedom or connection or to learn something.
Children stand in as a kind of “everyman” for me in my work: a stripped down more sympathetic version of ourselves. We all begin as children: unindoctrinated, undefined, and sensually awake. We don’t have the mechanisms in place to hide and manipulate (with any real skill) so there is a transparency to children. When we lose touch with this I think we lose something vital and authentic in ourselves. There is a tenderness which pulls me in and which I look to portray under the surface of everything.
Historically I see myself as connected to a lineage of painters that starts with post-impressionists–Pierre Bonnard in particular—building on their insights about the physical and sensual nature of paint and its ability to communicate psychological content in nuanced ways. The design elements and paint qualities are emphasized which create a dream like and internal version of the seen world. I also feel connected to the sincere genre painting of the Ashcan school which portray scenes of everyday people and life. Those threads are picked up through the 20th century with artists like the Bay Area Figurative painters, Fairfield Porter and Alice Neel who all pull a haunting honesty out of their subjects with great economy, balancing rendering and abstraction.
My most recent work consists of scenes from a Halloween parade in my neighborhood. Seeing costumed families in a walking in a procession I imagined their archetypal selves at an otherwise ordinary day in the park. The setting is contemporary, but also timeless. By participating in seasonal rite of dressing up, we are embracing the imagination and the dark side as we move into winter. There is a visual realization of our struggles and the things that move us. I’m interested in further exploring these panoramic, cinematic compositions with multiple figures and a vast depth of field, which allow me to be intimate and up close while simultaneously looking at a broader contrasting cast of characters. The paintings are also about what my world looks like here in Atlanta and some vision of harmony created by doing the simple activities of life together, and seeing the humanity in each other.