I just completed a series of three paintings for my upcoming exhibition in New York City. Three birds-eye view typewriters.
I love painting the mechanical components of the machines.
There will always be something charming and delightful in typewriters. Each piece is 2 feet tall and three feet wide. The typewriters are all depicted as life-size. My goal with these paintings is to have a viewer almost get a sense of being able to touch and use the typewriters.
When I start each painting, it never fails that I end up slightly overwhelmed at the number of keys I’ve locked myself into painting. I once told someone that my ability to sit quietly and do something as tedious as painting 150 tiny circles and squares is probably the key to why I can paint as much as I do.
I have eight paintings in my studio that I have not shared yet. Here is one that I just put the finishing touch on. I am focused on working toward my upcoming February 2022 exhibition in Los Angeles. It’s just easier to spend my time painting to forget about taking photos of the progress and constantly being tied to social media.
If anything, my paintings are about objects that can be touched and held in hand and have some history recent enough to make sense to the viewer but obsolete enough to become almost useless to modern life. To me, the experience of these objects is more melancholic than nostalgic.
I have written in a journal for 29 years. Let me tell you if you dig up and read the first entry written by your adolescent self, it’s remarkably revealing. Over the years, the purpose of the writing has changed. It can sometimes be like a daily log, but the business of life means that it is hard to keep up and often pointless. So I have kept it up to write about and document significant events.
There are podcasts and radio programs where people are invited to read their journal entries from their adolescence — in front of audiences, no less. It seems like a mortifying experience, and after recently reading through the earliest entries, I am pondering ripping out a few of the pages.
I am most keenly aware of is how the early teen me conceived the passage of time. At 15-years-old, six months is like a lifetime. And now, in middle age, six months seems just around the corner.
This painting is recently finished. It took me over a month to complete, but I felt no sense of urgency. An urgency that in my 20s was always prevalent.
I have said it before on this blog, but the subjects that I choose are more than just neat objects that happen to be old. I use them as symbols more than anything.
Despite there being such easy ways to stay connected to people now, it’s remarkable that we still let some essential relationships fall to the side. The other day I was driving in my car and noticed someone walking on the street who looked remarkably like someone who I was once very close with and saw regularly. It was an uncanny resemblance, but it was not the person in question when I got a closer look.
For the rest of my drive, I was stuck recalling memories of time spent with this person who has faded from my life. How and why did we drift apart and lose touch? It is almost as though we all chose to leave our phones off the hook.
These paintings are on view at the George Billis Gallery in New York City until October 24.
Influencers — that’s what we refer to people of persuasion now. People with entrepreneurial zest. They’ve existed forever and used whatever medium is current and available to reach the audience. In this case, really amazing books with so much information it would have kept the Victorian influenced busy for months.
132 years ago this book, The Popular Art Instructor, was published. It’s a collection of instructions on how to achieve artistic perfection in various endeavours. It’s all in there; oil painting, watercolour, floral arrangement, embroidery, house plant care, basket weaving, calligraphy, furniture placement, leaf pressing… everything old is new again. And when I write that I mean everything very, very old is very, very new again.
Instagram is full-to-bursting, overflowing really, with people who’ve made livings out of their various interests laid out in this book from 1888. You can now make a middle-class living by sharing your knowledge on watering house plants and arranging books on a shelf effectively.
With this painting, I’m commemorating the spirit of the people who published this book and the people who have strived for perfection and turned a hobby into art they can make a genuine living by.
This painting will be part of my most recent body of work showing at the George Billis Gallery in New York City from September 29 – October 24, 2020.
As they write the books on this era in the future it would be interesting to know what they’ll figure we got right and what we got wrong. It’s almost like we are in the midst of a planet-sized psychological experiment.
I’m calling this piece Second Draft. The first time I painted this old Remington (only a few weeks ago) it appeared on a very dark background. Unfamiliar territory. So I fretted and stirred and resolved myself by painting it a second time in more familiar territory. I’m sure I’ll experiment further with other tones in the background but it’s a slow process.
Goodbye 2008. I’m glad to see you go, you miserable year with your dismal news headlines. I plan on hiding in my studio doing the best work I possibly can for 2009. I’m actually optimistic about that.
Saying “Happy New Year” doesn’t feel empty and pointless this year. I really, truly hope it is a Happy New Year.
There’s no shortage of those stories of people who wanted to do something other than what they are doing, or did for the entire life, like writing a novel, learning to play an instrument, traveling, etc. So many things complicate life, preventing dreams from taking shape. Responsibilities, people and events all put the kibosh on passions. Subscribing to the simple philosophy of “just do it” seems almost terrifyingly simple, so brazen and lacking foresight. It’s as if people are happier if things are really complicated because that complication can help squelch the little voice in your head that reminds you that you once had dreams.