I dislike writing Artist Statements. Those of you who have had to write one likely feel the same. Like many an artist, I feel the pressure to become a black-turtleneck-wearing, horn-rim-bespectacled art world denizen spewing jargon and speaking entirely in the abstract whilst writing an artist statement. And that is just not me.
I try. I do try to be serious at work, in meetings, at events, but I can’t always pull it off. When asked a serious question I will give a serious reply, though it’s not my usual mode of communication.
So here’s a little something about me, why I make art, and what that means to me (with thanks to the proprietor of ArtBusiness.com for his ever-excellent advice on all things, well, art-businessy). This will be the long form version. The short and sweet of it can be found here. I will endeavor to make this one entirely jargon-free, and I am not currently wearing a turtleneck or glasses of any kind.
WHY DO I MAKE ART?
The simple answer is that I have just always made art. I like to draw. I like to paint. I like to make pots on the wheel. I like to think up cool sculptures that I may or may not ever get around to making. I find it relaxing but also fun and exciting. I like to look at forms and colors and think about how they would work as a painting. I like to moosh pretty images and patterns together so that they look prettier (but not moosh-ier). I like to make oil paintings that look deep and inviting, like a shady place on a hot summer day, because that is one thing oil paints are good at doing when used a certain way.
WHAT INSPIRES ME TO MAKE ART?
Sometimes I just see a thing and become so fascinated by it that I want to put it down on paper or canvas in a way that expresses just how beautiful, mystifying, or enticing that thing is. I’m inspired by old photographs that say, “These were the good old days.” I love old Art Deco posters that use clean lines and bright blocks of color. I love knowing that I could sit down and make something like that.
Lately I’ve been making paintings based on old family photos. I look at slides from my grandparents’ lives in Vermont. I know the basic story of their moving to the state, running a motel, and my mom’s childhood there. The images are just fragments, but to me they say something about living in the country in the 1950s. Even if day-to-day life was hard, the paintings show a life of innocence.
A lot of my watercolor and gouache works are based on stories ormyths like the Arabian Nights, poems, or on historical incidents. I often mix old images taken from print media and combine them with modern icons to tell a story about modern life, what modern media tells us we’re supposed to be like, or to make a funny reference to art history.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TECHNIQUES THAT I USE?
I use very small brushes, particularly when painting in watercolor and gouache. Being close in to a painting surface and carefully drawing tiny shapes and patterns is relaxing and meditative for me. All the detail lends interest to the work. You can go back and look at it multiple times and see new things. In oil painting I try to do the opposite by staying loose with brush and paint. I want the painting to look fresh, like it was done with ease.
WHAT DOES MAKING ART MEAN TO ME?
Sometimes I think it would just be fun to combine riding Boston’s MBTA with tulips. They are beautiful and even the subway can be made beautiful because I can create a world that way through art. I like the juxtaposition of strange and beautiful. Every work is a challenge and a puzzle to be solved. Art gives me the chance to express all these wild and lovely ideas that float through my head. Sharing them with the world visually is the final product, and I hope you enjoy what you see.