The Plays the Thing
Recently collectors of one of my paintings asked me write something for them, so they could better understand the thought process behind the painting. What were my emotions at the time, they asked.
Often I am asked to describe how or why I paint. Or what inspires me. But this question was different. It was specific. What was happening beneath the surface for this very painting.
I had actually completed the painting months earlier, so the request was that not simple. I would have to reach back and retrieve old memories and feelings, similar to trying to remember a dream the next day.
Obviously not an easy task--but I said I would try.
At the time I was working on this particular painting, I was experimenting with a number of different elements in my paintings. For some time I had been using fabrics as a collage element, but now I decided to focus on only black and white fabrics. Another new approach was to limit the ground of the painting to mostly one hue or color--in this case green.
My prior series of works had contained many vibrant colors, often juxtaposed to each other. I was looking for a way to create a dramatic effect with less reliance on color.
The other strong element in the painting is the use of many “found objects”, like jewelry, string, wool, buttons, and chards of pottery. I recently decided to use these things as collage pieces in my paintings because I liked the 3 dimensional textural quality they added.
When I start a painting, I do not have a plan in mind, but rather let my intuition lead the way. The was certainly the case in this painting: “The Plays the Thing”.
As I applied layers of paint and then let my brush flow, it looked very chaotic to me. I could not see where it was going. As I continued I added darker colors, like black and deep blue, sometimes throwing the paint to get random effects and emphasize the feeling chaos.
When I glued on the black and white fabrics, the painting seemed more alive to me. At this point I began to think of composition and structure, but still could not see how I could make it work.
Only when I began painting into the fabric did it seem to come together.
But I liked the feeling of chaos and did want to lose that. So by collaging the “found objects’ on to the canvas and incorporating them into the composition I felt I could get a feeling of order and chaos at the same time.
“The Plays the Thing” was a difficult process for me. There were many times the frustration was great, and I wanted to quit it. But I kept coming back to it. Something about it drew me in. And there was also many fun moments, like finding the right object, seeing connections between shapes, letting my imagination go wild.
Originally, this was going to be 2 separate paintings, but about half way through I realized they were meant to be connected and seen together.
There was a sense of completion when the canvases were seen as one whole work.
I like to tell people that their own reaction and interpretation to my paintings is what is important. I hope the painting stimulates them to feel or think or see the world differently. And I hope that this painting does that for you.