Writings on Painting.

Studio Notes

What followa is a collection of comments about my recent paintings which were part of a dialog with other artists on Facebook. They reflect my thinking at the moment, primarily about a particular painting or about my working process in general.

Painting is an inherently abstract activity., It is the transformation of visual information and experience from a three or four dimensional world view onto a two dimensional surface. The 3d to 2D transformation occurs through the use of a number of culturally accepted symbolizations.

Painting has a rich history of cultural symbolizations which evolve over time. As thes styles, as modes of symbolization, evolve over time they become part of the lexicon of painting and carry 'content' or associative meaning by their use.

As the culture makes the transitions from the Industrial Age and "Modernism" into the Information Age the paradigms of advanced painting must change. The Modernist ideas of stylistic evolution as a means of advancing the parameters of painting (i,e, abstraction) ia essentially complete, at least temporarily.

With the advent of the internet more and more of the rich history of painting is now available as a random access source of inspiration. At the same time this has diluter stylistic evolution into primarily a marketing tool.

I believe that historical styles ane now potentially a part of the culturally accepted symbolism and content.

I am interested in the "associative." This is painting which both has an 'identity' (refers back to the artist) and which utilizes the culturally rich language of painting to evoke an associative response from the viewer.

This leaves open a lot of options and interpretations but in my working process, the associative response is primary. The associative response gives me a narrative which controle the evolution of the painting.

Social Media Commentary

On Titles:
I generally shy away from titles because one of my core interests is seeing how we ascribe meaning. How we construct an associative narrative, to fit what we are seeing. If I dont interfere the viewer will have their own associations and narrative. The construction of a narrative to fit visual stimuli is, in part, how the eye-brain works.
12/28/15, FB comment on Untitled #29

This was one of the early pieces where I was still defining "how representational" would work. I really beat up this one, trying to maintain my original start but trimming back. It pinned down a reference point for me.
12/31/15, FB comment on Untitled #13

Driving the process and my thinking about them, is finding some associative connection in order to proceed forward. Then I just make them.
12/25/15, FB comment on Untitled #38

The painting tends to find its own solution that fits the associative states In feeling. Regardless of how a painting starts, it evolves to its own resolution. Sometimes I dont grasp it until later.
12/22/15, FB comment on Untitled #33

The title... is a personal English-Dutch language wordplay wrapped in a reference to Mondrian.
12/16/15, FB comment on Untitled #44 (Piets Probleem)

Q. ...Do you find it different painting on a smaller scale,is it more or less intimidating? ....In your latest work it looks to me like the change in scale has focused you..
This is the first time Ive made an extended series of paintings at this scale. I was considering the great paintings pf history and they come in all sizes. I think I wanted to see what working at a more modest scale felt like
12/16/15, FB comment on Untitled #44 (Piets Probleem)

Second, there are the practical reasons, primarily storage. Its also tough for me to work on more than 2 larger paintings and still see where Ive been. At this scale I have a dozen paintings in sight.
12/16/15, FB comment on Untitled #44 (Piets Probleem)

It takes longer to make a larger painting but I dont find this intimidating. The bigger issue is the lack of space problem and I think it mentally slowed me down.
12/16/15, FB comment on Untitled #44 (Piets Probleem)

I started these new pieces with some drawings, collages I guess, and they seemed like the would scale ip so I tried it out yo see if I was right. up seemed to work and I liked the size so I began the drawing process directly on the canvases laid flat on a table.
12/16/15, FB comment on Untitled #44 (Piets Probleem)

Being able to work rapidly allows the paintings to encompass my emotional and conceptual states Im experiencing in a more confined period of time, more in the present. So this painting was started in the week of the Paris attacks but not finished until now. The Paris paintings are more agitated in their paint handling I vies this (expressionistic paint) as content not a stylist marker. It tones the emotional visual state of the painting and conveys a particular agitation.
Style is a form of content.
12/16/15, FB comment on Untitled #44 (Piets Probleem)

...A factor is working at a smaller scale. At the start the paintings are developed using black forms against a white canvas. This has to work for me formally, and more importantly, I have to make some associative connection at this stage before I proceed any farther. This anchors the painting and while I may change the other parts (the environment) I rarely change the initial black shapes. They worked at the black and white stage and anything else is a different painting. I dont worry about what people think, I just make the paintings, one leads to another. Its working for me.
12/1/15, FB comment on Untitled #47 (Merlin)

The paintings start with the black shapes on the white canvas. This is done purely visually until I make an associative connection with the forms. Its a completion of the form-content dichotomy which allows me to proceed to the next stage. The painting then develops with the creation of a containing pictorial space. Its in this second stage Ive been expanding the inquiry.
11/29/15, FB comment on Untitled #46

I had worked out and fleshed in the black forms earlier in the week. Coincidentally I began painting Friday afternoon a bit before the attacks in Paris. The developing story brought back memories of 9-11 here in NYG. The emotional tenor of the Paris tragedy set the tone for the painting. What interests me is paintings capability to contain human emotion and ideas without illustrating them.
11/15/15, FB comment on Untitled #40 (Paris)

What interested me while working on this painting was how its emotional context was changed by the terror attacks in Paris. Linked through the internet, with cell phone amateur video I had the illusion of a real time connection to the terror. I have my own direct experience of 911 as associative context.
11/15/15, FB comment on Untitled #40 (Paris)

I was acutely aware his associative context but I was not interested in some emotional flailing as its manifestation. Rather, I felt the moment demanded a certain defiant stance towards the war happening on the canvas. The events seemed to demand pressing on beyond my won expectations, to risk failure in this context of this particular moment.
11/15/15, FB comment on Untitled #40 (Paris)

...in February I made some b&w studies wuth shapes cut from black paper. The process is totally intuitive, operating without conscious direction. By that I mean I'm not trying to draw an idea rather Im letting the black forms coalesce together into an associative image. The image is imposed on me by chance and the process. I discovered that a resolved b&w study would scale ip successfully.
11/01/15, FB comment on Untitled #35 (Tricksters)

I just directly layout the black shapes on the canvas to initiate the paintings. From that point on the forms direct the course of the painting. There is very little between me and the painting they succeed or fail by my actions in the arana the painting dictates.
11/01/15, FB comment on Untitled #35 (Tricksters)

The initial inspiration for this body of work came from some Braque collages I recently saw at the Met and the paintings of Jacob Lawrence. (now at MoMA but my interest precede the current exhibition) I've always loved Stuart Davis but I find that the Lawrence paintings are stronger formally, more rigorous and inspired, less decorative than Davis.
7/02/15, FB comment on Untitled #12 (Rouchneck)

I am working with solid shapes, in a high contrast situation. That may be unique, but Im doing everything else just like everyone else. I put down a block of black, or a scratchier handful of thinner black pieces, its not much different from making a brush stroke.
5/1/15, FB comment on Untitled #01

While I sometimes start with an idea, I have just scribbled or washed in some shapes with the black paper, and I go from there. Scavenger started from a pile of cut black paper that I had originally maybe used somewhere else. So some shapes had a distinctive form, but how they came together was accident and recognition.
5/1/15, FB comment on Untitled #01