"5 x 7 x 20", 2012, acrylic on hardboard, 5" x 7"
What are you working on in your studio right now?
Acrylic painting on hardboard panels, bristol paper, and wood strips of various small, intimate sizes. I normally do watercolor and gouache painting but haven't since summer. Color perception is my primary interest. I'm a very seasonal painter, and lately as winter is approaching I find the behavior of paint adapting to that.
Can you describe your working routine?
Monday through Wednesday are my full studio days. I'm in the studio by 11am drinking coffee, checking freshly primed surfaces, recently cut paper, dried paint layers, and pieces in various states. Almost immediately I'm compelled to put some fresh paint on something. I listen to "Bad at Sports" and other art podcasts in the studio. I'm working on several surfaces at any given time. During drying times I'm checking the work results, surfing the internet and looking at other people's work, reading theory & criticism, or playing old school Nintendo games on my phone (I still can't beat Super Mario Bros. 2.) Late in the afternoon I head to the coffee shop and write/blog for an hour or draw people. Despite a short dinner break, I return to the studio to continue working until 10 or 11 at night. By the end of the week, usually 10 to 12 pieces survive and are archived or continued into next week. Sunday is my supply shopping day. Once I refresh my materials I start priming surfaces, cutting paper down to size, scraping paint off my palette, and the cycle resumes.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio is on the top floor of the house and the wall tilts inward halfway up because of the roof. It is very encapsulating. It is one studio in a lineage of small, temporary studio spaces, combined with a history of predominantly small, temporary living spaces that have affected my lifestyle and my studio production. I live very minimally; I have a trunk that holds my clothes, books, and laptop (even when I have large closets.) There is not only a working and living practicality for small scale work; easel painting and watercolor painting were developed catering to a sense of mobility and temporality; there are forgotten formats like the portrait miniature... the small, mobile, painted surface has a stigma attached to it in our contemporary minds that I enjoy working against. A small studio with walls that can't host a piece taller than 3 or 4 feet works quite well.
Completed wood strips
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
I put different grounds on the surfaces I prepare; cool grays, warm grays, cool browns, warm browns, some blacks, white paper. I let the ground vibrate, I sense the incompletion of the surface, and begin mixing paint. I prefer straight edges, squeegees, and palette knives over brushes and pull a color across the canvas. Sometimes a single color gets put over the ground; other times I pull wet on wet and have colors mix on the surface. Those are my favorite moments of the process; when the earliest color interactions occur, when you observe the sensations on the surface and notice their effect on your condition, when you're tuning in to their frequencies like a knob on the radio. I'm an intuitive painter and love the uncertainty of pulling paint across the surface. It emphasizes paint as a separate entity from yourself, not completely under your control. The surface gets covered through teamwork; a developed interaction between the traits and trappings of a human and an inanimate substance.
Acrylic on paper, sizes vary, 2012
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I'm always curious about surfaces; how the paint surface and the painted surface handles itself and each other and how that affects color perception. I get moments using 300lb. HP exclusively and moments using everything but. The wood strips stem from a previous experiment painting on glass jars. Because of the differences between watercolor and gouache I like to mix different mediums and gum arabic in the paint. It depends on my primary concern at the moment and if I'm making progress with it. When you're digging a hole and hit rock, sometimes you need to dig elsewhere and sometimes you need to hammer your way through.
Nightcrawler, 2012, watercolor and
gouache on paper, 8.5" x 12"
What does the future hold for this work?
Visual artists engage and challenge perception through their working process. For me, it's the perception of paint and intimacy; developing a symbiosis with a physical substance that is somehow a kindred spirit. For some of us the ideal romance is falling and being in love with our best friend; if there was an effective analogy it'd be that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This growing internet community of painters and artists is really fascinating. I'm really looking forward to your show next spring in Connecticut, Valerie, and I thank you for the opportunity to do this!
"5 x 7 x 20", 2012, acrylic on hardboard, 5" x 7"