Four right turns

I tend to have "Breakthrough" moments when I least expect it. I usually find myself having an "ah-ha!" moment when I finally let go and let things happen. My latest happy studio moment happened as a product of frustration. 

I began with the painting below, a nude self-portrait. I decided to work on a somewhat traditional figure painting as a way to make myself practice and work (especially since I tend to struggle with figures, particularly self-portraits), but also try to transmit a certain feel or atmosphere. To further challenge myself I decided to use a limited color palette: ultramarine blue, cadmium red and titanium white. 
Nude Self Portrait 48"x24" Oil on Canvas

I actually enjoyed the process of creating this painting; I had quite the lovely conversation going with it. I enjoyed it so much, I decided I wanted create a series. I intended on painting two more versions of the same pose, each using a different limited color palette. The second piece would be limited to yellow, red and white; and the third to yellow, blue, and white. 

However, in the process of trying to recreate the pose for the second painting, I became extremely frustrated. I was having a hard time drawing the figure, positioning her correctly on the canvas, and overall getting into it. The conversation was over, and I was left with yet another idea that fizzled away.

In my frustration I began blurring areas out, drawing random lines across the canvas, and sketching light and telephone poles and wires (a reccuring theme in my work). Before I realized it, I was working on a completely different painting. I continued deconstructing the original image, overlapping spacial planes, and adding telephone poles and wires. I then found myself smoothing down surface areas and blocking out more defined areas and shapes. The final product was something unlike anything I ever tried before. And hell, I was intrigued by it. I wanted to keep exploring it.

Violet 48"x24" Oil on canvas

Just for fun (and because I like seeing the progression), here are the three different "stages" of that painting.

Three stages of "Violet"

"Violet" led to my next painting, "Green". I began this painting in a slightly different manner in that I didn't have a base image to... deconstruct from, if you will. Instead, I began by drawing some basic geometric shapes and then letting go. I wanted to break up the space into different, yet connected, planes. And here is where that experiment took me. 

Green 48"x24" Oil on canvas

I am really enjoying this way of working. Not only am I fully engaged in the process of creating these paintings, but I also enjoy the final product. I am exploring new ideas, new thought processes, and really, really enjoying the conversation and relationship built with each of my new paintings. 

After completing "Green", I went on my merry way to create these guys: 

Untitled (Emotional) 16"x20" Oil on canvas board

Engulfed by Nothingness 16"x20" Oil on canvas board

Death mask 16"x20" Oil on canvas

And well, I'm only getting started... :)


Back to the beginning...

When I was 13 or 14 years old, I began exploring surrealist art. I didn't know
I was being a surrealist; I was not consciously juxtaposing contradictory
visual elements or creating dreamscapes. I was simply letting an idea take over
me and flow onto the canvas. I'd start building on it, accepting anything that
came along and discarding what I no longer wanted.

I was not over-analyzing the purpose of the piece, nor wondering how the
work was significant in relation to the "fine art world", nor was I worrying
about writing up a statement to explain it. I was just a teenager painting and
drawing. It was a worry-free process, and I loved it.

Don't get me wrong: I cared about what I was doing. I was fully invested
emotionally in each of my paintings, feeling happy when things were going well
and on the verge of tears (or actually crying) when they weren't. I knew very
well which emotions were driving my ideas and what story I was trying to tell;
I knew what the painting meant to me personally and why the work mattered so
much to me.

But I didn't quite mind whether others saw exactly what I saw or interpreted
the work the way I did. I just hoped that whoever looked at my paintings would
want to spend time with them, trying to figure out what it meant to THEM. What mattered was my desire to reach out and share my love and passion for art. Of course, anyone was more than welcome to try to uncover my intentions, but I was not concerned
with how accurate their interpretations were. Simply put: if they spent time
with my work and enjoyed it, I was happy. I was a fulfilled artist.

I continued to paint this way through my teenage years. At 17 or 18 I knew that my art could be considered surrealist art. I was in love with painting and drawing. I knew that I wanted to go on to study art in college and learn everything I could to become a better artist. My goal in life was to create art. I was passionate about it and believed in it fully.

Before I go on, allow me to say this: studying art for four years in college
was one of the greatest experiences in my life; I would not have had it any
other way. However, somewhere down the line the education I sought, along with
my tendency to over-think and over-analyze almost everything, became my own
worst enemy. I so desperately wanted to fit in with the art world, tell
everyone why my work was so important and why the eff they should care. I
struggled with my words as I tried to explain the inner workings of my mind,
but every time I attempted to express my intentions I failed. I got lost in my
own attempt to justify my work. My desire to fit in and be accepted became a
wall that stunted my creativity. I was trying too hard and lost my inspiration
--and my passion seemed to fade with it. I had lost touch with that freedom I
felt in creating art.

Lately, I have felt that freedom coming back to me. I created my most recent
paintings without worrying about WHY, without thinking about how the fuck I
would write up an artist statement explaining or justifying anything. Once
again, I simply let myself go and paint. Emotions and ideas hit me and I run
with them, letting them guide me through the whole process of creating art. I
know what is driving my ideas, and know the story that is unfolding on the
canvas. I know these paintings are important to me. I am painting for me and loving it. I have not felt this good about my work in a long, long time. I am once again passionate about creating art, and I am happy.

Once again, I am free.