This body of work I’m going to be putting together might make more sense with an understanding of where it’s coming from, and how I got started working in this style.
Back in 2005, I was working a summer job as a landscaper; I knew that come September, I’d be starting my thesis year at art school, and I wanted to hit the ground running, rather than aimlessly wandering between styles and ideas. I laid out all these intricate plans, and mentally sketched out images that I would later paint.
At the time, I was making a lot of work that looked like this. While it doesn’t necessarily photograph all that well, the iridescent and metallic colours glimmer and shift like jewels, creating a very alluring effect. The challenge was integrating this technique into larger images an compositions, rather than the all-over textures I had been producing.
September arrived, and I started testing out my ideas; and every single one of them bombed horribly. Over the next four months, I produced nothing but garbage.
One spark of inspiration happened when I came upon a showing of Denyse Thomasos’ recent work. As one of my personal favourites, I wanted to steal the magic of her work to use in my own.
“The line work is key!” I thought. “I have to put lines all over my stuff!” So I started doing stuff that looked like this: it was certainly a step in another direction, just not the right one.
One of my thesis profs who I had been clashing with saw these and commented that I was on to something, but I had to find a mark making technique that was genuine to me; something that fit with my own sensibilities. At the time, I was unsure what she meant by this, but I knew that these weren’t working, so I moved on to other things.
Over the Christmas break, I had my first hint of free time, and I started playing video games for the first time in years. The experience turned out to have a bigger impact on my work than I ever would have imagined. The rush of data on the computer screen being displayed simultaneously was a nice analagy for the rush of energy and excitement this small country boy felt in the big city. I started taking screen shots from all these games and putting together digital collages in photoshop. I was pleasantly surprized by the results.
I took one of my digital sketches and began painting. I was about half way through the painting, looking at the thin pencil lines on canvas surrounding a few areas of roughly blocked in colour, and I knew I was on to something. for the first time in months, I was excited about what I was doing. Unfortunately, I took it to far, and I kinda killed the piece, but I did manage to work this technique I had been obsessed with into a composition, proving to myself that it could be done. But it also lost much of the raw energy the pure, unglazed colour had.
Looking at the finished piece, I couldn’t help but think about how much better it had looked when it was only half done. This is when my natural laziness chimed in: It looks better when I only do half the work? Score! Now I can produce twice as much!
I sketched out another image and began painting outlines and blocking in areas of colour, and while I was extremely pleased by what I was producing, the line work just didn’t seem right. The work still looked like a half finished sketch, not a completed piece. And all this fine brushwork was not making my inner expressionist happy. I had to come up with a better solution.
I dont know where the idea came from, but I took a milk bag, loaded it up with paint, cut out a corner and started squeezing on thick lines of paint. It was magic! I had found my own unique and genuine mark-making technique. I cranked out a few more paintings in this style, finished my thesis, graduated art school, then spent the next year trying to figure out what direction to push this style. This was another long period of time spent producing crap, but I learned one important thing: don’t try to force a change, let it happen naturally.
In 2008, I turned off my brain and started cranking out work in this style without consciously pushing it in one specific direction or another, just working, and letting the art change and evolve on it’s own.
Lately, I’ve come to think that I’m focusing too much on the urban aspect of my work, I want to start paying more attention to the paint itself.