Last week, I mentioned that I had spent much time painting typewriter keys in the past few months. So here’s an example of more typewriter keys.
Repetition, continuity, rhythm, symmetry and balance — these are all elements that drive my paintings. But also, they drive my studio practice. For centuries artists have repeated subjects, returning to the same thing repeatedly to improve upon their last iteration.
I have seen artists entirely give up on the idea of a career doing what they love because they get bored with the notion of always returning to the same subjects. The not-so-secret secret, it would seem, is to keep coming back to what you know.
Cézanne paintined Mont Sainte-Victiore dozens of times. The same view, over and over. Monet did a series of Rouen Cathedral 30 times. The precise same position and composition.
And so today, I return to painting yet more typewriter keys and other intricate details of the mechanisms that make these machines so interesting to me.
Typewriters seem to embody ambition. They represent the tools to document thoughts, ideas and stories – you literally hammer your words on to paper.
They’re familiar to us, but distant enough to be obsolete. As with all the man made objects I use as subjects the compositions are simple and straight forward. But they become more complicated with the repetition of the keys and the mechanics of the machine.
I’ve painted many typewriters and without fail, every time I start working on the keys, I think “what did I get myself in to?”
This Remington Quiet-Riter painting is like all of my paintings – simple at first glance, but full of detail once you look a little longer. The straight forward composition is easy to read, but the repetition in the numerous keys creates complexity. The layers of paint to bring the depth of the inside of the case was a joy to paint.
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.