This body of work represents a clear and distinct departure from my work as a sculptor. I find painting to be liberating from the detail and constraints of my wire work. With wire sculpture I attempt to create form with line. The forms are transparent, there are no hidden areas, there’s no way to hide or obscure any part of them. This is similar to watercolor. With my painting in acrylics, I can create on the canvas and change it at will, being able to cover up or accentuate previous passages, ideas and areas. It is a two dimensional medium, and I don’t attempt to create depth, so it is a more liberating medium. I find that with painting, sitting and staring is an acceptable habit.
In my paintings, I use the landscape as a jumping off point or a platform for the introduction of my shapes and patterns, dividing the picture plane horizontally. This landscape approach in my work started when I moved from Chicago to Colorado in 1988. The wide open field of vision of the Rocky Mountains, the light, and the view influenced me and changed my work from a more vertical format, to more open, colorful, and horizontal.
After I establish this landscape division of the picture plane, I then begin to introduce a variety of elements, some gestural and loose, and others repeated shapes or patterns, stenciled or drawn freehand. I make no effort at delineating any shape or form, but attempt to keep these elements as flat as possible, avoiding the implied depth and distance of the landscape platform. My effort is to then add flat elements and patterns that have no depth or form, only shape, line and color. The only inference of depth might be the overlapping of these shapes.
This body of work represents two separate painting events; one is in the winter of 2018 where I painted the smaller framed work, and the other was created from February through May of 2020, coincidentally during the pandemic quarantine. The former are smaller, more intimate paintings exploring my imagery and my approach to shape, problem solving and decisions within the picture plane, while the latter body were a purposeful effort to create a series of large paintings for this show at Blue Moon Gallery. The result is similar to the earlier work, but I have advanced the concepts forward and introduced more sophisticated planned methods and approaches.
These paintings, 16 in total, explore three separate yet related approaches to the use and exploration of my imagery. I created the paintings simultaneously, working on one and then the next, in series, letting one dry while I work on another.
The first style is the earlier mentioned landscape format, the second is a geometric division of the canvas, creating hexagons and patterns, and the third is a completely loose, random and inadvertent group of free shapes and flowing forms, using only black and white paint. I then go back into the painting and accentuate or obliterate these shapes. The result is a series of patterns and shapes in a loosely organized composition on the canvas with no reference of depth or up and down. I actually turn the canvas on all sides as I paint them. Looking at them now, they look like the plan view of an ancient city.
In some of the paintings I introduce repeated themes and iconic images, such as the Brancusi Endless Column, which is a shape that has been very influential in my work and has found its way into my sculpture. The rocket shape is also an image that I have used often. Both of these shapes are first created using wire to make the flat shape and use as a stencil, so I can easily repeat the shape. I use this approach in small and large work, using differently scaled wire stencils.