I frequently hear the question, “What do these images mean?”
A better question would be “Do these images convey any emotional truth?”
“To me everything is nature, including any feelings that I have – or dreams. Everything is part of nature. Even painting has become part of nature. To clarify further: I don’t have an ideological approach or a doctrinaire approach to my work. I just paint from my personal feelings, and my reflexes and instincts. I have to trust these.”
In my artistic practice, the body—often my own body—plays and finds energy in both defining and collapsing boundaries of intimacy, solitude, and the physical and social settings of intimacy and solitude.
For me my anxiety to make paintings comes from a very physical and psychological need to work hands on with materials. The malleability of oil paint; it’s transformation from wet to dry, thick to thin. It’s toughness and capacity for subtle layering and blurring. I even love it’s smell!
I am excited about the infinite variations of surface quality, brush mark and touch. I am constantly alternating between drawing and painting, either on paper, in my sketchbook or on canvas. It is essential for me to work at different scales from very small to very large. It is ultimately the process of making a painting that drives me forward as a painter. The act of painting for me is a question asking and decision making process. I give a lot of time for this process to evolve; there are often many paintings underneath what appears to be the final painting. Sometimes an earlier bit of painting stands the course of time, revealed on the top surface, it’s existence is very intentional. It can take me anything from an hour up to a year to finish a particular painting.
I closely observe the physical elements of my environment. I take long walks through my neighbourhood in Oakland’s Fruitvale district and put details that either strike me as particularly beautiful, ugly, peculiar or significant to memory. When coming to a blank piece of paper or canvas I meditate on these, the filtering process of memory means perhaps the most poignant ones reveal themselves and find their way into my paintings and eventually the wider conceptual questions I ask throughout a body of work. My goal is to feel sensitive and receptive to my environment and the people within it at all times, in this way, empathy and considering the broad and quite unchartered range and subtlety of human emotion is an important part of my creative process.
Compositionally I am currently concerned with making complicated dynamic compositions, that embrace a heavy interplay of shapes, forms, colour and texture, with a lot of contrasting moods and musical movement. When weaving these elements I often think about how they are like creating a knot in the middle of the canvas, the sensation of one surface overlapping another is very sensual yet holds a lot of tension and danger. I learn a lot from listening to poetry and writers in general, I do a bit of short fiction writing myself. I think about honesty and exposing a personal narrative through character and also how the physical appearance of a body, space of place can reflect something deeper in the human psych.
To me the world is a messy and chaotic place. To struggle with this truth but to make some sort of sense of it too is the challenge I set myself every time I walk in the studio.