Why do I make fine art? Because everything in the universe is in motion all the time. I think of my works as two-dimensional islands of calm in a dizzying sea of constant movement. My job as an artist is to capture a single moment in time, isolate it on paper, canvas, or a screen and turn it into something to be contemplated. Something a viewer can revisit again and again, a thing to glance at, pore over, stare at, or meditate on.
Movies and video offer a lot to admire, but when it comes to fine art, I always find refuge in still images: paintings, drawings, and still photographs, especially black and white photos of people.
Plus, I love making up titles and captions for images! Frequently the title of the work lends a picture an extra clue, or a little bit of intrigue. Another important motivation for why I make art is because each work I complete is like a milepost along the road I’ve travelled. It’s easier to know where you’re going when you can look back and see where you’ve been.
The Art of Stillness
With the right camera, any moment can be frozen, made to sit perfectly still like the polar star in the night sky.
If pressed for an explanation of my photography work, it would be this: I try to elevate the commonplace to be extraordinary.
I deliberately begin all my compositions perusing my photographs in Lightroom for an inspiration. Only my photographs consistently enable me to work this way because in addition to the image metadata, I can summon my memory of the image’s historical and emotional context. In other words, the experience of being there.
Visual Raw Materials
My photographs are the foundation, the raw materials, for my paintings, drawing, collage, mixed media works, and of course, photographic prints. Whether abstract or representational, my compositions always begin with an object, a person, or a landscape I’ve personally observed and then, captured digitally or on film.
As a result, I have amassed tens of thousands of images of ordinary objects, places of no historic value, and of people who wouldn’t invite a second glance. I have thousands of images of extension cords, handle bars, dog tails, and holes in the ground that would be dismissed from serious consideration as a “worthy” photo from any competition.
To me, every photographic frame is a marker in time of an arrangement of objects and bodies that will never be repeated. Every image has the potential to become an artwork. That potential can launch me into action constructing multiple treatments in more than one medium. If I interpret a photograph in a painting, I will also explore the possibilities of abstracting it into a print or drawing. In each instance, I try to identify and clone its essence rather than slavishly copy it.
It’s All About the Final Product
The process, materials, and means I choose for each project determine the attributes and qualities of the final product. Using my limited equipment, knowledge, and skills, I fabricate one-of-a-kind and small edition wall art products over a wide range of subjects personally executing each process, if possible. If there is one, my artistic purpose is to fabricate all aspects of each work myself.
In a typical project, I may make pencil sketches, then, capture and edit high resolution digital files, scan printed materials or transparencies, project images for tracing before ever picking up a paint brush. Or, I might print images, that I’ve captured and edited, on my 24″ wide on color or b&w inkjet printers matting and framing the prints bringing the work to completion.
I like getting my hands dirty building my own stretchers, stretching canvases, priming and sanding boards in preparation for painting.
Frequently, I augment my artistic explorations by producing works that are natively digital using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, and any one of several iPad apps.
From time to time, I work with a computer-driven vinyl cutter that allows me to cut precise stencils for airbrushing and decorating painted surfaces.
The works I produce are bound together by my preferences for color, texture, shape and line. And they are produced using just a few methods and media: oil painting, drawing with charcoal, paper collage, silkscreen printing, inkjet or platinum/palladium printing.
As a result of consciously analyzing why I make art, and after years building and optimizing my studio space, now, I have the processes, tools, and the rationale I need to bring whatever images I envision into reality.