I am an observational painter interested in narrative and visual metaphor. I find figure painting to be a natural fit for story telling. The extreme can feel so real and unreal at the same time. I love the chaos and adventure of human interaction augmented by the process of growing and trying to make it through life. I place the people in my work at odds with each other or their environments and it comes out a mixture of complicated feelings. I like balancing the fun of chaos with the dual joy and torture of intimacy; solitude as a sanctuary and penance. The feeling of longing or the drive of curiosity is like the painting processes itself.
My work has meandered in several directions but has recently solidified around the theme of travel, relocation and explorations as transformative experiences with the ability to change our sense of identity and how identity can be tied to place and purpose. A sense of place is created through color palette, objects and environments. Warm greens for the Deep South, browns for the far flung prairie and cool blues for the arctic. Saturated palettes referencing the intensity and other worldly nature of memory. The objects in our lives can be security or burden, make us feel at home or clutter our lives. Objects become markers of our personalities, identities, time and place, and purpose. Wood panel as indexer, color pallets as signifiers, red coats for safety.
The figures navigate extreme places with the help of a group, or go it alone, take their homes on their backs or leave it all behind. Power dynamics become integral to success or key to disaster. In the series Group Dynamic the figures wear bright red garments to protect themselves from the harsh environments they explore. One wrong choice separates them from danger. Their safety gear highlights how precarious their position is while also making them a matching set. Some groups work together. Some groups divide, stragglers left behind, others going alone. The lessons of cooperation have never been more important than now. What will our group dynamic be?
Learning to draw, paint or design is learning to see. My assignments challenge students to look at images and the world around them in a new way allowing them to be more sensitive to form, design and content. As an instructor I familiarize my students with a system of image making that will give them the tools to express themselves. They learn how to build a work of art through methods of construction that combine a sense of design with technical draftsmanship. In a practical way this means working general to specific, reading form as well as learning to apply the ideas of 2-D design as well as understanding the conceptual implications. While they are becoming more astute draftsmen they are also learning visually literacy and understanding the link between form and content.
Teaching from observation gives me a chance to talk about abstraction, perspective, deep and shallow space, and metaphoric meaning as well as the translation process itself. One assignment that has produced some interesting results is the torn paper drawings. Torn newspaper and black paper is used to construct an image from observation. Using paper instead of graphite or charcoal expands the concept of drawing and reinforces basic volumes while emphasizing the greater abstractions. The black and white keeps the drawings less literal and more in the realm of abstraction. I like this assignment because it is very painterly and changes the hand to emphases shape and form over detail.
I find it natural to teach visual literacy through drawing, painting, design and the history of art because it is a direct way to introduce abstraction and its relationship to content found in all art making processes. Analytical thinking is the backbone of a creative problem solving and developed by the study of art history and the making of art. Visual literacy and the creative problem solving that is inherent in these disciplines makes these practices the cornerstone of a quality liberal arts education. Through drawing and painting students access the works of the masters and learn to fully explore the creative possibilities of art-making. I bring together images from across art historical movements, and place them into context with what is currently going on in the art world. Design being the element that holds them all together sharpening their analytical skills. Ultimately I hope that my students come away with a new understanding of image making, one that will allow them to utilizes what they have learned about how to read form but also how to create meaning allowing them to express their own ideas.