Artist Talk : That Was a New Experience

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The artist talk went well. It was nice to have students and adults interested in hearing about my work. I had been wondering for some time what this body of work was about. It was finally coming together in my mind. What to tell was the real question. How not to tell too much. The students asked good questions, and I made one lady cry. She said she recognized the hurt in their eyes from teaching middle schoolers for years. She knew all of these guys.

These are self portraits to some extent, boys who were trying to survive. I know they come from the reality of my high school days, those mean awful days that I hated. Changing schools 5 times during high school did not help with my insecurities and loneliness. I was accused and misunderstood. At times, I barely made it.

These boys, many of them at least capture those feelings of loss. Of being lost. What could they do to be a part? What would it take to be accepted? Zero especially reminds me of Bill, the kid downstairs in my apartment building who was constantly derided and mocked. How did he ever make it through? He did though. I looked him up on the internet. He is listed in my hometown. I wanted to call him up and ask him how it had affected him. Was he still scarred? Was he okay now?

Here’s to us guys. The ones left out and ostracized. The ones who barely made it.

 

zero

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Zero is that kid in school who gets beat up a lot and is thrown into the cafeteria dumpster several times a year. He’s a sad little dude that stands out too much from the crowd and gets surrounded by wolves early on. They never let up once they get that first taste of blood. We all knew him or experienced the same, but we were fighting our own demons in high school and did little to reach out to save him. Hopefully he made it through and learned to find some happiness after going through that Hell called high school.

This piece that fully describes my process of working that has developed over the last 2 years. I often begin a piece with nothing in mind but a generic face. I use multiple reference photos from which to steal light and shadow shapes and sometimes color. I start developing the eyes first and often see an emotional state coming forth early on. I will ride that wave until I find something that is working really well, or until I overwork the piece. If I get stumped I’ll change photos, often changing light and shadows and positions of features. This particular piece had many faces underneath, but finally stopped on this guy. I love how raw and roughly painted he is. I’m learning to trust my instincts more and say STOP when I feel something special is appearing.

Inspiration: Bobbie Russon

I saw Bobbie Russon’s work a couple of years ago, but recently I rediscovered it and felt a strong connection with what I’m doing lately. Many of her pieces have a psychological aspect as they are more than cute portraits of kids (which don’t interest me). In her pieces with full figures she sets up a situation which is ambiguous, but one which provides a space for her characters to experience an emotional moment. The eyes and body language contribute to the feelings she is portraying. Her color palette is sophisticated and melancholic. I don’t know much about her life or art making history, but I sense in looking at her website and fb page that her work is maturing beyond cute. I’ve just ordered a catalog of her work and I’m looking forward to learning more about her.

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Ezra

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Probably the first painting that really stuck with me emotionally was the one I call Ezra. It is pretty thinly painted and not a lot of back and forth between reference photos went on. I was aware for some time with these stages in the painting, although unfinished, which possessed this interesting quality. A personality emerged and a feeling. Even though this is rough and thin, I decided to stop on this piece. And it has become a goal of mine to see and try to stop when I feel something out of the ordinary come forth.

You may question it’s finish. I did and still do, but I think seeing the effect is more important than worrying about it. It may be more for me than you. The decision to stop is important, for whatever reason. I immerse myself in the work of many artists daily, and surely something out there is tugging at me, telling me to stop, telling me to look and wait. I’m painting for myself, for my own approval first. I’m reaching towards my goals in painting, not yours, not a gallerist’s. And hopefully one day I’ll see and believe I’m making really strong work.