I have often found the most interesting subject matter for my work in the unconsidered spaces that we travel through on road journeys.
Incidental, and sometimes accidental, photos taken while traveling in cars inspired me in the past decade to make images of a moment in time that is often ignored or, at least, so fleeting that one might not notice the unique qualities of that space. Having the viewer placed firmly in the driver’s seat allowed for no question as to the painting’s perspective. (see 394, Some like it Hot) Further, painting largely natural environments with limited architecture created an interesting conflict or dichotomy between what is man- made and what is not. To increase this relationship of opposites, I sometimes removed architecture from the photos that I was using and left only the road and sometimes the car as the only reminder of the modern age.
As for color, painters from the mid 19th and early 20th Century influenced my interest in certain palettes. The mysterious pastel tones of Corot’s paintings and the stark clarity of John Constable’s clouds as well as the tumultuous landscapes of Turner spurred many ideas for new works. The exaggerated colors of the Expressionists including Matisse and Derain often inspired me to push some images almost into the realm of the surreal.
It was my ambition to create images that described a journey both physical and intellectual. The distant horizons and winding roads alluded to what may lie beyond the bend. It left an open question both in viewing the once unconsidered spaces as well as the mysterious elements that were just out of view.
As I continued to paint images of road travel, I also became preoccupied with road signs especially how a reduced image could have several urgent and clear messages. I started incorporating road signs that I had invented into some of my landscapes and eventually began making small paper and wood signs of my own. These images incorporated largely classical figures as well as pop culture figures reduced to silhouettes. In an effort to make a more richly painted surface, I started making more colorful surfaces as well as patterns that I lifted from various baroque wallpapers and furniture designs and imbedded the figure into that pattern often juxtaposing complimentary and analogous colors to enrich the contrast of object and ground.(see P Angelina and P Liz)
These pieces evolved further as I started isolating the object from the background and started to make the surfaces look more stucco or fresco like.(see Winged Victory) I also branched out from figures and started using animals and car engines on a similar background to the classical figures I had been using a year ago. (see Shell Game and Engine)
Ultimately, I feel that these recent pieces that frame a significant object are trying to define what beauty is in this culture that we are growing into today. Is it the ancient classical view that still prevails, is it nature, is it machine or are they all in some way valid descriptions of beauty in its many forms?