Thursday, June 3, 2010

Australia II: The Paintings

My residency in Australia came at a perfect time, after a long struggle with several friendships, I was looking for some solitude; for time to reflect on my thoughts and process it through my work.
After graduating from Pratt, my work has become less outwardly social and iconographical and has become more and more about my personal life. Where my paintings used to depict allegories, they now focus on social awkwardness and my day to day interactions with people. This is a very welcome shift, and I am happy to be able to express these feelings somehow, if not in words then in images.

I have always been a process junkie. I appreciate the steps it takes to achieve a finished composition. Each step, to me, is a sketch and an image in its own right. I begin my compositions as line drawings, which are then redrawn and painted in black and white acrylic as value studies. Using those two studies, I create small color studies in oils on paper which I use to guide me in creating the larger works. I have always strived for very complex compositions, using hoards of entangled figures, whose limbs and bodies guide the viewer through passages of light and dark and intense and subtle color.

The first piece I started during my residency is called "A Tale of Great Shortcomings." It did not come to me that it was a version of Gulliver's Travels until one of the boys from Guildford asked me if it was. The painting is about not fitting in. I wanted to focus on having a tangible space for my figures to reside in, since previously I composed with figures and half assedly painted in some semblance of a space behind them. The shift in size of the figures was a very awkward to deal with, compositionally, but I am happy with the motion of this piece.

"Great Expectations" was started at home, before my residency. I have had many interests in my life, and have always strived to pursue many of them, at the same time. This year I found myself working at a gallery, painting, working at a chemistry lab and working at a bakery. In each situation, people pushed me to spend all of my time doing each thing, and for a long while I struggled with what I would do. I have known always that if I could, I would paint full time, but to paint full time I have to have a job, and to have a job means that I cannot paint full time, and which job, to work in chemistry I need more degrees, to teach painting, I need a masters, to bake, I need to dedicate epic amounts of time. This painting is about indecisiveness, I suppose, about wanting to appease everyone and still do what I love to do. An impossible struggle.

Formally, I chose to leave the center of this composition blank because I wanted to emphasize the swirling and commotion inherent to this piece, by forcing the eye constantly around the center, without allowing it to rest there. I was very happy with the way the color structure turned out here.

I began two other compositions during my time in Australia. They seem to act as a diptych. The first is called "Not Always Greener" and the second "A Dancing Partner". Both pieces are about relationships and lack there of. The first looks at how two different girls see the world, and the second is about finding someone who understands you.

Click on any of the images if you would like to see the images larger. More work from Australia can bee seen at

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