When asked about my work, my mantra used to be, “The subject matter of my work is not as important as how I paint it. Whether it be people, places, or things, the important thing is that my personality as an artist is visible through those themes. If I am not in there, I do not see the point.” While I feel this is still true, I no longer feel it is a complete “statement” from me as an artist. Over the years I have watched myself meticulously pick my subject matter based on two innate criteria: challenge and access. The subject must challenge me to express myself and grow as an artist. It must also afford access for my viewer; access to me as an artist and what I am trying to do. Even if they do not understand how I did it, the work must speak to them on some personal level and the subject matter often helps us find our common ground. We are all connected to people, places, and things. Sometimes those connections are based on memories, sometimes they are immediate. Either way, ethereal or evident, they are shared. My art is a dialogue between the viewer and myself about those shared connections—without the viewer, I am that proverbial tree in the forest.
While I somewhat accept being labeled a representational artist, I tend to shun the label of realistic artist. My work represents real life subject matter, but it is firmly based in abstraction and intuition. Rather than view my work as abstract representations of people, places, or things, I view it as an abstract representation of me—it represents my process of imagining. By focusing that abstraction and utilizing my intuition, I bring forth representational pieces. My work is born through solid draftsmanship plus a liberal application of paint via a brush or a knife or anything I can get my hands on, plus plenty of color experimentation and the carving of my medium. It is truly gratifying when a viewer, while being up close to my work, stares* in wonder at the surface then, while backing away, witnesses all that texture and color (that an art textbook tells them shouldn’t work) and abstraction somehow, mysteriously develop into a recognizable subject. That ‘somehow’ is me. So, that takes us back to what I wrote above, “If I am not in there, I do not see the point.”
*It is even better when they cock their head like a puppy.