moving right along
I have several new paintings underway, and while they are clearly in the same family as those in the Circa show, they may be a new generation--looser and less restrained than the older ones. The pull of pure abstraction seems stronger now; the nature references that have been a part of my work for years seem to be fading in importance, replaced by free, gestural marks and textural experimentation. This isn't actually a sudden change--it is evident in a number of the paintings at Circa. But perhaps with these fresh starts it seems more obvious to me.
Change is seldom abrupt in my work, which is probably why I tend to trust it when it asserts itself. It is the result of many small steps, not an impulsive leap. Even when an insight or idea does appear suddenly, like the proverbial lightbulb, a closer look will reveal how it evolved quietly over time. This is the fascination of the creative process.
I've been asked several times lately what I mean when I say my paintings are built up in layers. Hoping to shed some light on this, here is a picture of several paintings I've started in the past two weeks. What you see here is the first (--or what I think of as the "abstract expressionist"--)layer. The idea is to generate lots of energy and drama with color, contrast, mark making. Paint is applied quickly and spontaneously, although I'm also forming some ideas about where the painting may eventually head.
The arrangement of panels, the color choices, and other aspects of these paintings will change pretty drastically in the coming weeks. There are some outcomes I picture ahead of time--for example, the dark panel you see in the painting to the left is one that I plan to develop in light colors. The lighter panels above and below I see becoming much darker. The layers underneath will provide contrast when I scrape away bits of the paint in the final stages.But most of the time I don't plan how things will end up. I am far more entertained by discovery and surprise.
On the other hand, the overall process is
somewhat predictable. I will definitely add quite a few more layers with a variety of tools and techniques, mixing the paint with wax medium to give it added transparency and brilliancy, and gradually the surface will become comlex and nuanced.
Maybe the term "layer" is a little off, because I don't necessarily cover the whole surface in any methodical way--it's a bit looser than that. But I do treat the picture plane as a whole. A particular color or texture acts as a building block towards the final result, and is applied all at once across the surface of the panel.
Discretion and editing play are part of the process, of course--I select which areas will be active, for example, and which will be more quiet...where there will be contrast and where there will be only subtle transitions. The layers will become more refined as the painting evolves. I'll pull out particular colors, often one main color per panel. And gradually I will end up "hiding" much of the inital energetic imagery underneath the surface. These buried images are still there, however, showing bits of themselves here and there, and exerting their presence and energy.
opening at Circa
Friday night was the opening reception of my show at Circa Gallery
in Minneapolis. These photos were taken when the gallery was relatively empty, but there was in fact a very nice crowd that ebbed and flowed for over three hours, with friends, gallery clients, artists and other interested people. There was a nice party atmosphere and plenty of good conversation.
Thanks to everyone who came to the reception, and also to those who plan to drop in at a later date. The show will be up through March 8th.