I had a great time participating in Firehouse Gallery's artist talk earlier this month. (I also won "Best in Show," a giant honor given the quality and range of art, and they presented me with a check!) Several of the participating artists were there to speak about their work, as was I. It was informal but informative. A warm group of creative people and interested observers had an interactive tour around the show and we all learned about the unique motivations, inspirations and view points of each artist present. And I was impressed by the strength and quality of the art community in Orange, NJ.
It's hard to communicate in words what is expressly visual; artists spend so much time with their work alone, and at least for me, the running dialogue is never "what does this work mean?" or "how can I connect this piece with my philosophy of existence?' but rather mundane thoughts about what's for dinner, lists of unaccomplished tasks, and scheduling all the other fun things I plan on doing after painting. But I was able to find a few genuine themes to mention briefly:
- The idea of my process being that there is no set process. Each painting begun as if amnesia had set in, and I'm painting for the first time. This sounds fairly implausible, but to large extent that is how I feel, each new work having it's own rules and unknown destination, and requiring a retrofit approach to technique.
- The idea of my paintings having a lot of "pasts" due to the extensive layering. Secrets lie beneath the final surface; whole other worlds, figures, structures etc. have existed, been obliterated or greatly altered. Many changes of mind occur while working. (I mentioned that I thought because of this fact, it might be quite impossible for a forger to try to recreate my style.)
- That in the evolution of a painting, plans are useless. Allowing the paintings to become what they seem to "want" to become, or what my subconscious must want, along a meandering garden path of mental foibles, makes all premeditation folly.
I hope to write extensively on the philosophy of painting someday. I'm constantly writing notes while painting in the hopes that eventually, I'll have organized thoughts about the subject that will be worthy of an essay.