Artist, Painter, Filmmaker
Living With (and without) Art
At 51, I’m rewriting my artist bio because I’ve been out of the game for a long time. It's been about 20 years since I’ve made a painting. My last body of work was big, bold and accomplished. It was the result of conditions optimized for production—time, money, a great studio, and the pressure of grad school deadlines. I wish I knew then how rare it was to enjoy the support that I had. After school, the dream of spending my days in a light-filled studio quickly drifted away as the need to square my output with income came into focus.
I took most of my 30's & 40's learning how to run a business making videos for other businesses. The goal was to apply my approach to artwork to commercial filmmaking. But, I learned that working for clients is nothing like making art. The objective is the same—to make pictures that people want to look at. The execution is not the same—playing with crayons alone in a room is nothing like managing the chaos of film production—they’re both animals, but different animals. Still, I love my business, working with my wife and making films.
One thing I’ve come to grips with over this break is that I’m good at making films, but I’m better at making art. So I've managed to extract some time from feeding the entrepreneurial beast to begin painting again—not giant canvases that take 9 months to finish, but small abstract pieces that take considerably less time.
I’ve always been jealous of other painters for ‘playing in the sandbox.’ Some artists are able to take an idea, image, or theme and make a ton of work out of it. They put restrictions on the ingredients which, surprisingly, allows for more experimentation. A kid in a sandbox can make a castle, a highway, or dig a tunnel to China. I’ve always admired this approach, but could never do it because I couldn’t restrict the inputs. I always felt like I was reinventing the wheel when I started something new. It was unnecessary, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Now at my age, with limited time and resources to devote to art practice, I’m forced to get in that sandbox and limit my inputs and see what I can do with it. It has been liberating. I’m working with simple graphic elements: Rows of lines that make ovals, curves and sometimes tangles of ovals and curves. I use chalk and paint. Figures appear but they are greatly simplified. I like making these. I like how they look.
In art school, you think of your work ending up in galleries and museums. In practice, most of your stuff will end up in homes. I’m happy with this and prefer this. Knowing that a painting is a part of someone else’s intimate living experience is reassuring. Helping bring harmony to a space or provide a contrast that sparks conversation over dinner is rewarding. Knowing that a child growing up around art will internalize it in ways we can’t imagine is fascinating. This is why I photograph my work in home settings. I want to help people visualize it in the context of their lives, hanging on their wall, next to their couch, with the afternoon light bringing out the colors.
I’m calling this project Living With Art. I’m reshaping my approach to how I make art so I can fit a practice into my life. And I’m letting my audience know that I’m fantasizing about my work existing in their homes, becoming part of their lives.
1988 - 1991
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), BFA Painting
1996 - 1997
Bowling Green University, MFA Painting
Vermont Studio Center, Residency