i hang my show this coming tuesday. i've completed three new paintings in a week and a half, and hopefully will polish off two more by the end of tomorrow. i'm a fast painter, but i wasn't sure if i could do it: i knowingly bit off more than i could chew, yet i work the very best under pressure. i'm really trying to take my time with these pieces, and not rush through them, working full days, barely squeezing it all in, patiently watching them transform and allowing them to develop in stages of several layers. getting back into oils after a long hiatus, it seems i can become confused and overwhelmed easily. i'm attempting to leave these pieces impressionistic, with less refined detail, and lots of background color showing through. with more emphasis on the abstract nature of paint, these busy compositions read well from a ways back and look like ecstatic blobs of confetti close up. i've always loved the idea that the viewer's mind fills in the blanks, adds detail, and makes assumptions. it's not just a painting, it's a dialogue. and although i can paint in a fairly realistic way, photo realism becomes boring to look at. why not just take a photo? i'd rather not always rely on refined detail or accuracy to impress the viewer.
this is my first art show in who knows how long. for a long time after mom died, it was too painful to paint. after years of painting prolifically, after doing large paid commissions, installations and commissions, after showing almost monthly at restaurants and shops all over portland, i stopped completely. because painting, it was just salt in the wound. life was so complicated and stressful, and i was traumatized. it was impossible to be creative, let alone optimistic. i wasn't sure if i'd ever feel good enough to get back on my feet.
this time around, my paintings are all about joy. i've gathered my favorite images together from some of my most cherished national geographic books, and appropriated them into my paintings. these images often get lost, hidden inside the covers of obsolete and dated books hiding on thrift store shelves. my self-proclaimed job as a painter is to excavate these images, bring them back to life, to make them larger than life and immortalize them. the images exude the human energy of togetherness, they are on fire with the brightest colors, full of life. i've been more subdued about my palette in the past, but living in a dreary grey landscape you start to crave color like a strong cup of coffee. with these images as my muse, it's been a tonic to paint. because you can't really look at them without smiling. yes, i suppose that's what i'm trying to do here. i can't afford not to. i think that's why i make art at all. ask me for a statement, and i'll say: i just want to make people happy. it's not flowery, and it probably wouldn't fly in some intellectual art arenas. but to me, a joy shared is a joy doubled. to me, that's all there is. after what i've been through, i can't afford to do it any other way.