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.
May 3 is the opening day fora group exhibition called “Perfectionists” at the Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Check out my contribution to the show below.
When I was invited to participate I thought about the idea of “perfectionism”. I’ll be honest — it’s sometimes my problem. I want everything to be perfect and in reality, it can’t be. The reason I keep painting is that I am trying to perfect my work. The previous painting I completed didn’t seem to work out exactly as I had planned, so I try again with another painting. If I live forever, will I paint forever, always chasing the elusive perfect painting?
When I set up a group of objects for a painting I always consider negative space, repeating elements, shapes, angles, lines, perspective — everything that moves the eye around the canvas. I use grids to help outline the composition. The objects I paint are engineered machines with symmetry and balance often baked right into their designs, so applying these rules to the paintings seems fitting. The overall effect I am trying to achieve is a sense of order, calmness and stability. Painting these objects transforms them from cold and banal tools to something more human and hopefully pulls a viewer in to think about how they relate to the world of objects around them.
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 is the sister painting to the baby blue Royal typewriter in a simple vignette. A red Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter to be featured in my October 2017 solo exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
This is another painting that left me very pleased with the outcome. It’s the culmination of years of work and dedication.
This is a big departure from pears. Much more complicated, but a blast to paint. It’s an Underwood #5. Gigantic and heavy. My wife found if for me at an estate sale. It’s useless and entirely broken, but you can’t tell in painted form.
I once came across a piece of computer software designed for writers that has the intention of trying to somehow eliminate the plethora of distractions the computer offers. The idea is that if you’re a writer, sitting down to get some work done can be difficult when everything in the world seems like an easy double-click away.
Once upon a time writers had only either a pen and paper or a simple typewriter. A blank page was a blank page. Judging by the way things are now, it would appear we’re losing our ability to focus. Sitting in front of a blank page with no browser icon to double-click would have required tremendous focus.