The work shown here is derived from my mirror fragment series, yearly self-portrait series, and more recent work synthesizing the two subjects. Although I sometimes paint and draw from dreams, songs, and poems, most of my work, and all of it here is made via direct observation.
The notion to more pointedly study reflection and light with the materials and means available to me sprung eight years ago after decades of perceptual study aided by and incorporating mirrors, and from an encounter with Olafur Eliasson’s light installations. To accomplish my goal, I began painting from arranged pieces of broken mirror within white surroundings that edit out the rest of the room to allow color and value to derive, with little interference, from light bouncing around variously angled, neutral, surfaces. Hardly scientific, but somewhat controlled.
This project, because of the rapid and continual shift in color and value resulting from weather and the arc of the sun, allows the march of time to be more perceptible. The painting can’t possibly keep up with it. Besides the time element, I’ve also gained a deeper appreciation of the limit of pigments. When it comes to simulating sunlight on a blank surface, oil paints feel adulterated. And my perceptual and analytical abilities are markedly strained by the analytical task at hand. I often see color I can’t classify.
Besides exploring light phenomena, I also enjoy the many viewpoints multiple mirrors permit, giving 3D information within two dimensions. And the compositional and drawing challenges these geometrically intense arrangements present require me to be acutely aware of my place in space, I must remain still.
The self-portraits could not, of course, be perceptually painted without the aid of a mirror, and now that I’m older, a magnifying glass as well. I began painting these in a systematic way fifteen years ago, completing one, 20 x 16 canvas every summer. Similar to the mirror fragment paintings, it often feels impossible to translate what’s there, to pin down the formal elements that reveal my transient mood. But the attempt to represent my countenance always does tell the tale of my interior state, of my progress as a painter through the years, and of the effect of time and experience on my physical and emotional being.
I intend to paint these subjects indefinitely with a new focus on work that synthesizes the two. Through this work, I’ve found that though much is lost in translation, much can also be found.
I’m an artist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to painting, drawing, and large-scale collage, I make clay sculpture, and build dioramas and assemblages using a wide variety of materials and processes.
Read and discover more in the Entrada and Arriba galleries at the Durango Arts Center