Not unlike lying on your back in the park gazing upon cloud formations, my oil paintings are completely open for interpretation. I encourage viewers to find imagery in my artwork, but if you see a hand, human face or a bicycle somewhere in there, I remind you that I have not painted one intentionally. Technically my work falls under the Surrealism category. The imagery can be best described as a cast of twisting, billowing, vibrant characters interacting with each other in a surreal, impossible world. This world exists only in my mind, and I make the rules. The purpose of painting them is to show the viewer a snapshot, a quick flash of these shapes as they swell and interweave with each other.
I was formally trained in painting at the Kent State University Arts Program. It was during these years that I feel I have found my artistic calling. Specifically, I can pinpoint an experience that changed the way I thought about making art. During a class trip to New York City, I was able to view a collection of paintings by James Rosenquist. Each painting is collection of seemingly unrelated items, which have been liquefied and distorted. Rosenquist’s subjects appear to be floating in an environment where there’s no gravity. His objects flow in an organic manner sending the viewer’s eye rapidly around the canvas. Along with his choice of imagery, his use of color has been inspiring to me. His later paintings are extremely vibrant, almost like an explosion of color. Upon my return to Ohio, I thought about art in a new and exciting way.
I began constructing collages, which were mostly about composition and color. I chose the most vibrant and interesting subject matter I could find, mostly from my own digital photos and magazine clippings. But I only used images that were unrecognizable, like a close up of a glass filled with ice, or distorted reflections on the chrome bumper of a car. I didn’t want anyone to pick out an object in my work, for that would change the way the viewer interprets it. For example, if a viewer were to recognize that car bumper, they would quickly assume the piece is about cars, or something even deeper. I tried to avoid this as much as possible, because the collages were only about composition, and purely decorative. Steering away from recognizable forms was and always will be the tallest hurdle I encounter during the creative process. It’s especially difficult in this wonderful day & age, where an infinite amount of imagery is at everyone’s fingertips. Throughout my artistic journey ambiguity became a fascination of mine…I guess I enjoy misleading people.
As my collages grew more complex, I found myself staggering to find the right indistinct imagery. That’s when I began altering found images in Photoshop, and a new door was opened up. When I found I could change the color, values and even distort my source images, the possibilities became endless. My imagery took an exciting turn further into the unknown. I began adding light situations and shadows, pushing my 2-D compositions into a third dimension. It was at this point when I began replicating my digital art onto canvas.
Largely my artwork is done with oil paint on canvas; I find the colors to be more rich and vibrant that any other medium. Through the years my paintings have grown more and more complex, obsessively detailed and saturated with color. With each new painting I push myself to add a new element, whether it being a lens flare (depicted in my newest painting, Lifter), or rendering certain parts of objects out of focus to show depth (shown in The Other Half). I am always up for a challenge- constantly adding something new to my compositions. I dream up something that seems too difficult to me, something I have never painted before, and strive to make it happen on the canvas. I feel this practice has effectively pushed my art in new directions, which is integral in achieving a successful career in art.
This is what drives me to do what I do. An obsession with making each painting better that the last, finding new imagery that no one has ever experienced before. I feel that I almost cannot control the evolution of my work. I’m just along for the ride. It has come so far in only a few short years, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.