I am often asked how long a painting took me to make – usually a difficult question to answer. My process involves a lot exploration, experimentation, improvisation, risk-taking and wandering down untrodden paths or into the wilderness where there is no path. I want to make images that I've never seen before, which makes it virtually impossible to simply sit down and "make a painting" from start to finish. A great deal of the time that I spend in my studio is devoted to drawing, much of which is very loose and gestural, drawing from observation, memory and my subconscious, whilst I keep a sharp eye out for pleasant surprises that emerge from the work. This happens not nearly as often as I'd like and much of the "work" that I do ends up in the trash bin. But the work is, nonetheless, an important part of my overall process.
This painting of the old McBride house, which has been the subject for numerous drawings and paintings over the past few years, began late one night, over three years ago, as a very small, experimental color sketch. I had covered a piece of paper with blue pastel and then smudged it with my fingers, sprayed it with fixative and then dew the house from memory in various blues. The drawing itself had a lot of problems, but I found the color scheme interesting and thought about developing it into something. But, as sometimes happens, the drawing got misplaced and I moved on to other things. Over the past few years, the drawing periodically surfaced, from the depths of a pile of papers or from underneath a table and I would always find it interesting and think about working it up into an image, but to no avail. Until earlier this year.
There were many more drawings, as I worked out the composition and color scheme, before I embarked on this painting, which is markedly different from the original sketch that was the impetus for the final image, which didn't have the shed or any trace of reds or red-violets in it. I enjoy allowing the images to come to fruition in there own time, as was the case with this one and many others. I like to be surprised and I like thinking that out in my studio right now are more small, rough, late-night sketches that may one day, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, become wonderful paintings.
For the past couple of years, the focus of my work has been the use color harmony as a means of expression. For each image that I create, I endeavor to create a unique combination of colors that work together to convey the content of the image. I try to imagine the colors for each image as a cast of characters in a story - each one playing a specific role in the overall drama, whilst simultaneously making an important contribution to the cast as a whole. My process involves mixing all of the colors for each painting before I actually begin to paint. This allows me freedom to focus at first on the color relationships for the image. Once the colors are mixed, I begin to paint, but often during the painting process I will modify colors, add new ones and decide that certain colors that I have pre-mixed have no place in the painting after all.
This image was based on a motif that I explored several years ago - the back side of an empty house on the Littleton/Houlton town line. I sold the original painting a long time ago and never referred to it for this painting, but I did have some of my original pencil drawings that I had done on location at the subject in the spring of 2010. This ended up being a painting about yellow - my goal being to create a visual representation of the sense of warmth and comfort that can come from reflecting on pleasant memories from the past as a means of alleviating anxiety about the future.
I am a full time artist, originally from Massachusetts, currently living in northern Maine. I work primarily in oils and pastel, and occasionally watercolor. I offer instruction in drawing and painting at my studio, which is in an old renovated potato barn. Please feel free to view samples of my work (You can see a larger version of each picture if you click on it.) and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Be sure to click the "Older Posts" button at the bottom to see more work. I don't always have time to respond to comments, but if you wish to correspond with me, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org