Friday, September 28, 2012

studio visit

i visited the Hirshhorn museum last week and spent a bit of time in a room full of de Kooning's women.  somehow he ended up coming home with me, and now he's hanging out in my studio.  de Kooning has been in my studio before, along with Mitchell and Guston.  they are the most frequent visitors anyway, and the hardest to get rid of.  i had, through great effort, just recently gotten rid of them; but now he's back.  it's going to be hard to get rid of him this time.  i'll just have to paint a lot of bad paintings and then he'll get pissed off or bored, and leave.  that or i'll run out of beer.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


i just completed the toughest commission i have ever received.  my friend and his family spent three months in hong kong this summer.  their adventures and routine constantly involved the MTR (hong kong's train system) and the map is a visual reminder of their travels.  he commissioned me to paint an abstract interpretation of it.
painting abstract interpretations is what i do, but the tough part was that the map already looks like one of my paintings.  what i do is take a lot of visual stimuli and reduce it and simplify it.  the map is already the perfectly reduced and simplified representation of land, sea, and rail lines.  in fact it is a textbook abstract painting. 

after many, many layers of paint, each looking too much like the original map, i let go and painted "my painting".  what i tend to do is loose and fast, and the process is more like a dance than a drawing.  once i started approaching the canvas in that way, and let go of the hard lines of the map, i was able to enter the consciousness (or exit the other-consciousness) necessary to paint without restraint.  the colors remained true to the map, and my mantra ("white is land, blue is sea, and lines are journeys") ensured that the map was the inspiration for the painting.
wanting to present my client with two options, i was simultaneously working on another version.  for a period both versions were looking too much alike, then on a trip to the beach, with typical oregon coast weather keeping us house-bound, i opened a Richard Diebenkorn book.  i was instantly struck by the obvious similarity between Diebenkorn's paintings and maps.  here was my inspiration and my affirmation that these simple forms, in two colors, with linear elements, could be handled in a painterly way with strong map-like familiarity.
both paintings are 35" x 56", and involve acrylic and spray paints.  the lower one also includes some conte crayon.