Secession - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

My primary influence as a painter is Gustav Klimt and the Austrian Expressionist movement of the early 20th century, and this shape and color combination reminds me of that. To me the idea of the title also represents withdrawal from the cultural status quo, a search past the surface to find new creative wavelengths. This painting was the first I finished of 12 pieces I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks, and while it differs a lot from the rest it forms a logical starting point. Many of the shapes and patterns that started to emerge in these paintings seem to connect to the natural world; shapes suggesting cells, amoeba, and microscopic plant structures take a prominent role. These textures contrast the more precise, or mechanical marks that reference digital imagery. Both of these elements are present here in a direct, simple form, and they’ll get messier and more chaotic through the rest of the collection.

Adherent - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

I was initially very unhappy with the first few layers of this painting. The colors got greenish and muddy and I didn’t see any obvious way to improve it. Then I tried to add a clean shape, which didn’t fit at all. After a final smudge of gray and some extra hazes of color the whole thing somehow clicked together and now I feel good about it. Something about the way that shape seems to stick to that sharp-edged slab of indigo led me to the title. Chaos and uncertainty have a way of pulling us to adhere to something, some kind of structure, something simple to hold on to.

Aquarium - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

Are you a fan of shoegaze music? If that term means nothing to you then google will yield plenty of album lists to pore through. That style has produced some of my favorite records since I was in high school, and sometimes I’ll unwittingly make a painting that looks and feels the way that music sounds. I’ve been critiqued for perhaps putting too much emphasis on atmosphere, that the haziness and build-up of layers clouds over some of the punch in my work. I guess Slowdive might share some blame for that. I won’t pretend to hear colors or see melodies or whatever, but I’m consistently preoccupied with the connection between music and the visual element associated with it. “Aquarium” came to mind as an obvious title, as I’m sure this cool murky place contains life of some kind. And I imagine if I dunked my head in there I could hear a blurry symphony.

Capillarity - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

I was determined to stick to a single color for at least two paintings in this series, so here is my most yellow painting ever. Of course some other hues snuck their way in there but it was necessary. I used a Pygmy Lush LP which the mailman had somehow snapped to make the circular impression. When I look at it I feel like I’m in a Petri dish, or one of those glass slides used with a microscope. These worlds beneath the surface of things were always dreadful for me to read about, but I’ve always loved the images that could be found there. It’s a space where none of the nonsense humans fight over matters even one bit. It’s just life, endlessly finding a way to grow.

Microstructure - acrylic on Dibond, 60 x 50 cm, July 2020

Have you ever seen a microscopic photo of an object, and been surprised at how rough it looks at that level? Close-ups of a needle tracking a record come to mind for me. This painting reminds me of that experience of moving closer to something only to find new layers of texture and nuance. The connections and processes around us and inside us that we take for granted are more delicate and surreal than we realize.

Autolysis - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

Autolysis is a cellular break-down process of decomposition, thereby allowing organisms to give themselves back to the life cycle. None of that was on my mind as I painted this. In fact, I don’t really remember having to think much about this piece, it’s almost like it spontaneously synthesized itself in the process of working on a dozen panels at once. But the color shifts against the desaturated areas seemed to suggest the cyclical flow of life fading and reemerging.

Integrin - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

Sometimes a quick move of the paint brush just hits. It usually doesn’t. But I keep giving myself the freedom to let my hand wander. I often delete or distort the result, or deploy a crude form of mental copy and paste. An integrin creates a bond between cells, which is necessary for processes like the healing of wounds and the growth of embryos. These are lofty concepts, and this just is a painting where I got lucky and it turned out without giving me too many headaches. But maybe you can see a glimmer of life in it.

Suspension Culture - acrylic on Dibond, 50 x 60 cm, July 2020

I think we all feel suspended in one way or another right now. It’s uncomfortable and I don’t know about you, but I want to squirm my way out of it somehow, to force myself out of this weird dream. I think some of this anxiety may have transferred to this painting. It’s a bit ugly, but that also lends it some urgency, almost as if it reflects a fight for survival. I think we have something valuable to gain in contending with this moment, especially if we find a way to do it together.

Channels - acrylic on Dibond, 60 x 80 cm, July 2020

I sometimes look around the tool menus in Photoshop to find odd titles for paintings, so those of you who live in that space as much as I do will recognize the Channels tab. That tab’s actual function doesn’t really relate to this image, but the experience of using a digital brush definitely does, these bursts remind of trying to make a precise mark, but creating a blown out mess because the settings are all off. I think the main theme here is this balance we have to strike between using digital tools, and particularly sources of information, in a healthy and productive way. The most organic element, which would be the lung-like form in the center top is almost completely overwhelmed, but compositionally everything still builds to it, which I didn’t plan consciously, I just knew it had to stay in the picture.

Anatomize - acrylic on Dibond, 70 x 80, July 2020

I really had to struggle with this painting, literally tear layers of paint off to get to this point, and in my mind it’s stuck in a place I would normally not consider complete. I tend to favor my paintings that come to a clear endpoint fluidly, without a bunch of revisions. But I’m challenging myself to appreciate the difficult ones too, and in this case I think it is more interesting in its less-polished state than if I were to keep pushing it to be something it maybe doesn’t need to be.

Filter Gallery - acrylic on Dibond, 80 x 70 cm, July 2020

All the different marks and textures I’ve been using in this series seem to crash together into a crescendo in this painting. It seems to reflect the overwhelming nature of navigating life in our time. There is so much information all at once and so many possibilities to choose from, it’s wonderful, but also exhausting. Those pale blue slabs became a necessary device to slow the eye down and let it find a place to rest.

Nightingale - acrylic on Dibond, 60 x 80 cm, July 2020

I think of this painting as a nocturne. It's getting dark, but there's a phosphorescent energy moving and illuminating the space. It brings to mind the continuous cycles that course around us while we sleep, the mysterious energy driving our existence doesn't rest.

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