New Directions

Much of my recent artistic exploration has been about the way visual perception of three-dimensional space may, in its translation into a two-dimensional format such as in a drawing or painting, coalesce as not only illusion but also as compositional formatting across the picture plane. A plane of color may be both flat surface interlocking with its neighbors and a receding plastic arena indicating distance and spatial relationships. An edge may – with angular force, contrast, and implied line – be both demarcation and cohesion, both joining and separating the shorthand elements of either illusion or formal structure.

So it is that I have been creating images that attempt to play with the edge between 2D compositional formatting and the illusion of 3D space. My guide is always perception – that is, my own sense that a form keys into illusion as well as into flat shape. Some of the works are more clearly abstract (seemingly without referent) while others are more obviously depictive. Yet both are aiming at the same goal. Below I present works in this vein I’ve been making over the last year or so – these are just a few of what is a growing body of work.

Ideal Form #2, Mezzotint and gouache, 7 inches in diameter.

Two Bells, Acrylic on panel, 24 inches in diameter.

The Seedbed (#1, Subtractive), Graphite on paper on panel, 23.5 inches in diameter.

Untitled Template Drawing, Graphite and gouache on paper, 20 inches in diameter.

Untitled Template Drawing (A 5 for Daniggelis), Graphite, ink, and gouache on paper, 20 inches in diameter.

Seven Mandalas for the Murky History of Beginnings and Endings, #3, Marker, graphite, ink, collage and white-out on paper, 6.25 inches in diameter. Collection of Ian and Natalie Shelly, New Albany, IN.

Seven Mandalas for the Murky History of Beginnings and Endings, #5, Marker, graphite, ink, collage and white-out on paper, 6.25 inches in diameter. Collection of Tim and Denya Wolff, Camden, NY.

Pivot, Paper collage, gouache, and acrylic on paper, 9 inches in diameter.

For Tatlin, Paper collage, gouache, and acrylic on paper, 9 inches in diameter.

The Teachers, Oil on Panel, 24 inches in diameter.

The Resonators (In Progress), Oil on Panel, 12 inches in diameter.

Next post: I’ll break down the 2D and 3D binaries I’m thinking of in some of these works. Also, I wrote some initial thoughts about this process of settling in on a new focus in this post: “What I’ve Been Musing on Recently.”

She Draws!!

My daughter draws. See for yourself:

Working hard on the Magna-doodle.

A tableau with a foot and the finished work…

The facility of a Twombly!

Her mother interprets the ineffable script.

The work table is itself a work of art…

A swift, sure hand speeds over an uncertain surface: glory!

“SPACE SHIP!” – Miranda Grace

My daughter loves watching Star Trek: The Next Generation these days.

When we bring up Netflix to watch an episode, she shouts about SPACE SHIP! and DATA! – yep, it’s pretty cute. Here she is looking through my Star Trek “Ships of the Line” book. She always parks on the images of the Enterprise D, naturally.

Statement, January 2012

     I create paintings, drawings and prints in an attempt to address – through archetypal themes and symbols – the fundamental questions, ideas, hopes, and concerns I have about being in the world. I write texts in an attempt to integrate rational conceptions and reflections with my passionate, sometimes illogical, image making. In tandem, these avenues of expression form a multifaceted arena of investigation and inquiry that I use every day to – hopefully – understand and make sensible the miraculous reality of being.

     The statement above relies on the fact that I am deeply interested in three main aspects of the human condition: being, symbol, and body.

     I am intrigued by the state of evocative subjective experience that Gaston Bachelard described as “the astonishment of being.” Thus, though I am interested art of all kinds, I take particularly to those forms that connect with our embodiment or sense of being. This means the physical world, the objects we use and love, and the bodies we inhabit are particularly important to the sort of art I want to see and make.

     It follows then that I find the expression of meaning through symbol – that is, the potential for objects to accumulate and resonate with meaning – to be a central interest of my art-making practice.  Anything containing meaning has been, as John Dewey wrote, “funded” with importance through the physical interaction and intellectual contemplation human beings have invested in it over time.

     The body is the zone of incident where being-ness and the structures of significance coalesce. Therefore, I foster a deep appreciation for the human body as a container for and calibrator of meaning and knowledge. As a maker of images – be they painted, drawn, or printed – I function as a symbolist in the traditional sense; I create tableaus for the relational contemplation of that which is beyond the facts of appearance. In doing so I hope to stimulate an evocative, transformative experience in my fellow human beings.

Making My Work Mean So Much More

My wife, Alison, and I are beginning the process for an international adoption. It’s something we’ve thought about for a long time and something we’re excited about.

Above: me and my daughter drawing. 

There are a lot of reasons we’re interested in this and there are a lot of logistics and options to consider. There’s tens of thousands of dollars to raise, most of which we don’t have just laying around. My wife is much more skilled than I am at holding all of these different issues in mind. She’s able to plan and strategize at a level that I can’t really even understand. So in the midst of this process I really just want to be able to DO something, to add something to it, to help make it happen. 

As I think about this huge thing we’re getting into, I really just want to make sure that one of the other huge things in my life – my art-making – plays some role. I want to make my work mean more than perhaps it would on its own, more than it would do just hanging on a wall. I want my work to actually do something about the nearly 150 million orphans in the world. If, by some miracle, my artworks could help us bring one or two kids to a life of love and intentional care, then I want to do whatever I can to cause that to happen.

Above: Seven Mandalas for the Murky History of Beginnings and Endings, #5. One of the pieces for sale to help fund our adoption. My daughter Miranda helped me make this one.

So I’ve opened up a little etsy shop that features about 50 different artworks, with more to come. My hope is that I can have these works – images that I love and worked very hard to craft – become part of the means by which Alison and I do a different kind of work in the world… something that can make all the difference to a child who needs a mom and dad. 

If you resonate with this sort of thing, I hope you’ll consider going to my etsy shop and purchasing a work. If you don’t see anything there you’re interested in, please check out my flickr and my main website as some of those works are still available as well; I’d be happy to hear from anyone who’s interested in any of the works.