Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reading Between the Lines (oil on canvas, 2014)

People often ask me how long it takes me to make a painting. This is a difficult question to answer because every painting is different and my process involves a lot exploration, serendipity and never knowing what the painting will look like until it is finished. In addition, many paintings begin with a series of exploratory drawings and studies as I fumble around in the dark trying to get closer to the illusive image. Sometimes these preliminary drawings will emerge in a burst of creativity over a very short span of time but, more often than not, the drawings will come over a span of several days, weeks or even months. Occasionally, albeit rarely, in image comes very quickly, almost effortlessly and an image will go from initial inspiration to finished painting in a single day. And sometimes, I'll labor over an image for months, working on it for a few days, then getting away from it for a while, coming back to it again, getting away from it again. During this time I usually find myself trying to reconcile any expectations that I might have had with whatever the image is trying to be, which is antithetical to whatever I thought I was going to do. I suppose it's like having a bright child and expecting them to go to college, medical school and on to a successful career and life of luxury and then having to deal with their decision to become an artist. This was one of those paintings. This is actually the second painting that I've done of this subject, based on a pastel drawing done on location in the late Autumn of 2012. I began this painting in early November of last year, naively thinking I could finish it in a couple of days, in time to take it with me on my trip to Erie, PA. Hah! This was not to be. I struggled with this painting through the holidays and most of the month of January. Ultimately, it ended up being a painting on which the paint was applied over and over and over, layer upon layer, creating a density and impasto surface that turned out to be exactly what the painting needed, regardless of whatever I had intended.

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