I Got 99 Paintings, But I Only Need One

Roadblock, 2016, 24" x 24", Acrylic, road reflector, lace, Italian wall posters on panel
Roadblock, 2016, 24″ x 24″, Acrylic, road reflector, lace, Italian wall posters on panel

Some paintings almost paint themselves, and some give you a run for your money. This one had as many lives as a cat, and there was one time for sure that I looked at it and thought, “If this belonged to someone else, this could be done right now”. But it didn’t feel resolved to me in any of those incarnations.

Here are some of the bumps along the road to the finished painting.

I began knowing that I wanted to include a road reflector that I found while I was running (my first road run, actually) in Maui while on vacation. As soon as I picked it up, it reminded me of my father-in-law. I ran back to the hostel with it in my sweaty hand, brought it on the plane, and knew it would appear in a painting. I even thought I (sort of) knew what the future painting would look like: the reflector would be anchored in a cream-colored space. Somehow, I ditched the idea of the reflector and went in a different color direction.

Stage 1
Stage 1

I played with various items I found on the road. Nothing seemed to work exactly.

I had seen a diagram of a fuel injection system and components that I really liked, from a graphic standpoint. I confess I don’t know anything about cars, but wish I did. This diagram reminded me of my father-in-law and I tried working with image transfers of one of the diagrams. The transfer didn’t work but some of my painted lines from that phase stayed in. For a while, I abandoned the idea of the reflector, fuel injectors, and even my father-in-law, and went down a rabbit hole that involved these lines becoming abstracted ladders and then canoes on the water.

Stage 2
Stage 2

After taking that oh-so-seductive detour (it was the boats that I thought could have stood alone – but only for a different artist), I got back to the roots of this painting. The reflector returns. Also, I decided to stand firm on my current interest in patterns, hence the stripes.

Stage 3
Stage 3

With at least six entirely different versions of the painting under the surface, I thought, I have nothing to lose! Throw it all in there. Italian wall posters came out, both for their graphic and color interest, as well as the ties to my previous work, and my trips to Italy with Mia.

Stage 4
Stage 4

I had to build a special housing to hold the road reflector in place while the glue dried (it’s very heavy). In the end, the fuel injection system came back, but it’s so stylized that I’m probably the only one who can see it in the finished product. Another “road kill” found object from the side of the road makes an appearance. The final version actually came back around to my original intention to record some thoughts about my father-in-law and our special relationship, and this is where it needed to be all the time. Those unnecessary detours were necessary, I suppose, to convince me that I was right at the beginning.

Finished!

Roadblock, 2016, 24" x 24", Acrylic, road reflector, lace, Italian wall posters on panel
Roadblock, 2016, 24″ x 24″, Acrylic, road reflector, lace, Italian wall posters on panel

You’re Invited!

Tangier Overture
Tangier Overture

To an exhibition of new paintings at the Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way, Washington.

The Oak and the Cypress

…And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Excerpt from “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran

This body of work is about being married, or in a long-term relationship. The first step toward this theme was a technical one: I challenged myself to begin using pattern in more conscious ways in my paintings. This technical consideration soon turned metaphorical as I began to consider the patterns (specifically behavioral ones) in my daily life. Around this time, maybe because of this train of thought, I suddenly realized that my eight-year relationship with my wife can now be considered “long-term”. We’re not honeymooners any more, and sometimes we’re both surprised to realize that. On top of this, we traveled to Italy last summer, the first time we’d been there since we went together as a brand-new couple. This trip provided a natural comparison and opportunity to look at our relationship at its beginning and at its current bloom. It also caused me to revisit some of my earlier artwork, since I was inspired by Italy at that time. The warm Italian palette, crusty textures, sense of the passage of time, and found objects such as Italian wall posters frequently featured in my compositions, and I’ve returned to some of these themes to explore marriage.

The exploration of the figure is a departure from my usual abstract paintings, and a move into more personal territory and themes. Only two paintings have ever been shown before in public.

The Oak and the Cypress
On view at Knutzen Family Theatre
3200 SW Dash Point Rd.
Federal Way, WA 98023
Monday – Friday, 9 to 5
Through August 16, 2016