PAINT

The path I choose as an artist is to instigate wonder. I make paintings first for my own walls, and they need to surprise me, or why would I have them?

Funny monkeys, go find colored mud and splash it on the tree, try for a kiss, and the babies do it again. And thus we arrive at the modern abstract painter, flailing away into hopelessness and succeeding anyway.

I always drew, from a young age. I distinctly remember that haunting smell of my first gifted paint-by-numbers oil set, maybe age 5; I know right where I was sitting, the shape of the plastic cap and cup, and that luminous non-crayola color…it was a moment. Thereafter and about, I mostly drew cars, lots and lots of cars. Pretty good at them mag wheels, I was. Fast forward, and one night in August of 1984, I got on an overnight bus from Roanoke, Virginia to NYC, to begin my years at Cooper Union, one of the most prestigious (if mostly unknown) art schools in the US, at that time granting full four year scholarships to all who were accepted. I came in drawing spaceships, and left an abstract painter.

I have little appetite for the art world, and its games of language and posturing for price and status and self-deception. My pieces are functional objects, meant to engage the viewer, and they aren’t about words. They are perfect for the wall just off a therapist’s couch, or for a meeting room where people need their brains to do smart stuff, or for a spot in your home that you look at often. They seem still, then they’re different, then you look and it doesn’t look like you remember it. Seems to me that’s actual value. They’re signed on the back.

In the US, I worked exclusively in oils, on finely crafted wood panels. I’d certainly love to do that again, when I have access to everything I need to do what. I used to look down on acrylics, as oils just feel more…luxurious, but they are also very liberating. Oils are acidic, and also dry very slowly, and don’t play well with mixed media, but with acrylic, I can chop up cotton lace, pile it up with thickeners, wait 20 minutes and then go in with more color, and just keep working without pause, no problem. They allow me to be very spontaneous and reactive, chasing ahead of my imagination like a fairy with teeth.

This is the best job in the world.

ptg_116

acrylic on birch plywood
210mm x 148

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