A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of presenting my work for the first time in a large public forum at the A.P.E Gallery with Sophie Wood, Gordon Thorne, and Stephen Hannock. I was nervous. I couldn’t get my heart to settle down. Generally, that’s a good sign to me that I should lean into the fear and give it my best shot.
I was shocked to find the room fill to capacity. I sipped some wine for liquid encouragement. The lights dimmed and away we went.
It was fine. All of the words I prepared to go through the history of my work over the last three years were mostly forgotten, but some things spoke for themself.
Most importantly to me I wanted to share a small trajectory of cutting short painting in college, just to pick it up again once I had settled back into the valley.
I first showed a sampling of the charcoal video animations I pieced together with drawing and a digital camera. This was to translate something to the audience that might not have been obvious at first. But the video is the product of hours of carving light and dark shapes out of charcoal. These drawings became the foundation of understanding that my main squeeze in art history goes back to the impressionist.
Impressionism has an emphasis on visible paint stories, the depiction of light and its changing qualities. Often it accentuates movement.
My first painting instructor at Smith College who waved his disdain for painting politics around. He would often confront us with the question “Is Painting Dead?” I suspected a little bit at the time he believed it to be so. As though there was nothing else to be said in the medium that has not already been. I now don’t honestly believe that to be true, or necessarily important for the artist to always consider when getting down to work. But at the time, I moved away from painting and started picking up other classes to inform my painting. I wanted to create a contemporary interpretation of some of the fundamentals of my painting style (shaping light) to modern media — Video. )
These charcoal animations are rendered by drawing and taking a photo. I felt like the hours and hours drawing was teaching me how to carve light and darks spaces repeatedly, to create a scene, and movement. My brain became super trained to discern shape through blocking darkness and erasing to create light.
Once I left school and the equipment it provided, I was on the move. I worked in Provincetown 6 days a week at three different jobs to ensure I would have money to spend for the long haul ahead. I couldn’t paint, but I always kept a sketch book. It was the best place to turn in my focus and have quiet spells working out things on paper and nothing my inspirations and thoughts. ( I encourage this for everyone).
A year later, I sub-letted my first studio, then made a basement studio (that flooded) and then an attic studio that was both hot and freezing at inopportune times throughout the year. But it was fine, I kept at it. And then I got to have my first showing of work at the Green Bean, the breakfast place I worked at. It was kinda crap. But over a couple of more years of work and making myself show I got better.
I took to one of my professor’s Gideon Bok explaining that through history, artists would add glazes to their paintings to capture light. They made transparent washes of color to allow light to pass through the surface and make pigments appear more saturated with color.
One day I came home and a friend of mine had resined these student art projects, making a beautiful lustrous coat. I was enamored from that day on with coating my paintings with this substance to build of the surfaces of a painting so that it may capture and play with light.
I went back to my roots again as a competitive swimmer, certified scuba diver, and dreamer of submerged beings; Water. It is the perfect inspiration for observing changing light and a ever unfolding theme for exploration. The painting above is one of my early experiments with the resin layering.
I was also interested in touching on a state of being in constant evolution that the theme of water has provided me. This theme has allowed me to go more into exploration, physically and psychologically. Water is transformational. All living creatures are born of it. Spiritual transformations have been associated to it.
But I needed funding, so I set myself to setting up shows. As many as I could. In September 2012 I actually installed 3 shows of different things: paintings at Hope and Feathers, Window paintings at Cup n’ Top, and Unicorn busts at The Dirty Truth. I spent nearly everything I had to get ready for these events and had no supplemental income. But I had faith.
At the time I was working on my painting technique, I also became interested in the sculptural aspects of building dimensional surfaces in paint. I turned to sculpting, literally with the project Happiness is a Unicorn . It touches on the mythology of the elusive unicorn as it relates to happiness. At times when one is trying to hunt happiness closely, it is as elusive as the unicorn and always just beyond reach. Once you catch the unicorn, you can’t keep it like a trophy, because the magic then disappears. This really mirrored what I was going through with developing my art career. I was haunted and over exhausted by these projects and determined that I would do as much as I could to get my work out there. I thought, if I make a hundred unicorn heads, surely I would be able to make a good profit and become unburdened by financial woes and be able to work without the financial stress lingering.
Oh how wrong I was! Each sculpture was so painful to make. I’m not describing it here, but it was a really great creation of my own personal mountain for several months and is sucked away hundreds of dollars in supplies and experimentation disasters.
But I had my shows! And my friends showed up for me triple fold. Even my mom flew out to be with me at my very first gallery showing at Hope & Feathers. I ended up selling half of my show (7 paintings), all of my show at Cup n’ Top (12 window paintings), got 5 unicorn heads to love on, and sold many other paintings and commissions as a result of my showings.
Today, I work daily through figuring out what needs to grow, what seeds to plant, and what can die. My artworks weave in and out of the details about life and art that really motivate me. Life is difficult, so I am finding that it is necessary to follow my bliss, observe the dark portions closely for life lessons, and remove the unnecessary at this time so I can hone in and let my authentic voice shine through.