Twenty years ago I decided I wanted to be “an artist”. It was good to have plans, but exactly what was I going to paint and why was I going to paint it? I was in art school and incubating many ideas when a trip to a vintage and antique emporium lead me to this old telephone. It snowballed from there.
I painted this telephone twenty years ago and can remember showing it in class during a critique and managed to prattle on and on about why I painted it the way I did.
I have painted every day since then and decided a few weeks ago to bring out the old phone and paint it again here as a way to reaffirm the decision I made a few decades ago.
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.
Twenty years ago I was an art student at the very beginning stages of exploring painting. For years and years before that, I had always been drawn to visual arts and had an aptitude for it, especially drawing. I even took a keen interest in reading biographies of long-dead artists and seemed to retain facts and trivia about their lives.
Finding your voice, discovering your subject, and creating your own vision and style was a task that was given in one of my classes.
I found mine early on and it took a permanent hold.
There’s the obvious reason I would paint vintage objects — they’re interesting. They simply look good from all angles, especially straight on. Looking at them in their painted form, you can almost hear the sounds they make, the weight of them, get a sense of interacting with them. Early on I knew that there was a personality within them and I bank on that with each new painting.
If you have time, please read this article about my work from Wall Street International Magazine. You’ll find a very good summation of the intentions of my paintings.
These two paintings are part of my current exhibition in Los Angeles at the George Billis Gallery.
They are used as representations for communication – a theme I have focused on for several years. Talking and listening; the literal functions of these as objects. Admired also for their iconic designs and vibrant color.
The elements I strive for in a painting: a sense of space, light, and atmosphere.
Although my work is realist, it is not hyper or photo realist. All the layers and paint marks are really only visible if you stand before the actual painting and look close. Glancing at it here on your phone, iPad or computer screen will be too brief to see these details. That’s okay, the entire point here is to just introduce you to the painting. If you want to get to know it better, to really understand what it is I’m doing, you have to see them in person. I hope you’re able to do that one day, if you haven’t already.
Thirteen years ago I painted this phone for the first time. It was when I began seriously building my oeuvre. I would paint fast and furious, thinking that a quickly rendered, expressive way of painting was what I wanted to achieve. It never really felt like a natural way for me to paint, but the subject always felt like the right one.
I was painting with acrylics, and if the painting wasn’t done after an hour of work, then I felt like I was taking too long.
Over time I slowed way, way down and focused with an indirect painting technique. A very slow building of layers in oils. In person my paintings are still far more painterly than they appear on the screen before you.
Over the past several months I have experimented with paintings and tried a few different approaches. I’ll still do such experiments now and again, but I have decided to look back over the last 17 years of my paintings and will simply re-paint my own work with my new approach and technique. I want to copy my own portfolio, I want to see if I can make the paintings better, I want to see if I can learn from my own work.
In 2004 I signed up for Flickr where I have archived 740 of my paintings. Most of my works is there, including work done in 2000 as a student. Anyone who wants to see, warts and all, is welcome to browse.
I found this little blue table at Everything Old Canada and figured I would use it to inject some texture and colour in to a few paintings. It is a bit of an experiment, a study to see if this is something I would want to pursue in other paintings.