Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Maybe today will be perfect.

This means I will begin painting at 9 am, I’ll stop at noon for lunch, I’ll continue painting at 12:30 pm and stop again at 5 pm.

No one will call. No one will need me. I won’t need to make an appointment to get my summer tires installed or notice the tiny burgeoning of a recurrence of skin cancer on my forearm.

I’ll be so seduced by the desire to make something perfect that I won’t notice the inanities of the radio blaring in the background.

One of the reasons I turned to photorealism was the temptation of perfection.

If I make the painting look just like the photograph I used as a source then I have, objectively, achieved one of the things I had set out to do.

You may not like what I painted or why or how I painted it but you sure as hell can’t tell me it doesn’t look like a photograph.

(Camrose Apartments, 2005 5.5 X 8" acrylic on paper)

When you’re insecure or unaware of what you’re saying in your paintings it’s easy to become bogged down by the pursuit of perfection.

Perfection is an illusion. The siren song that lures me from the realities of my existence.

After my second sold out show in New York a noted authority on photorealism called my work that of ‘a fine journeyman realist’.

Ouch! After all, the sold out show wasn’t at his gallery.

I’m beginning to understand that the pursuit of perfection is an unsuccessful effort to eliminate any possibility of rejection and at the same time a denial of the humanity in my paintings.

My eyes, my brain and my hands work together in their own unique way. The imperfections are what make the works unique to me.

I’m human and I cannot be perfect. Repeat as needed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Subject

What do I paint?

I used to ask myself this before starting a painting. I’d go through slides of my recent work and remind myself what it was that I painted.

I think it’s one of the harder things for a photorealist to consider, we’re defined so much by the things we paint. I’ve ended up being more enamoured of painters who aren’t as easily defined by their subject matter. How do you describe what Robert Bechtle or John Salt paints?

(Martin's Bar, 2006 5.5 X 8" acrylic on paper)

When I dropped old neon signs as a subject I had only vague stirrings of awareness of the direction I was headed. The conscious changes one makes are usually dead ends. There is often an undercurrent of change that’s more elusive but more important to identify.

How do you carve out an identity as an artist without figuring out who you are as a person? I am singularly unmoved by paintings of marbles, random objects in glass jars, the still life of vintage collectibles.

What do these things say about one’s soul? Not much.

When I look at a painting, I want to be let in through a crack to the artist’s psyche, not to simply marvel at their technical bravado.

Far more difficult than the mastery of technique is the seeming endlessness of the artist sorting out why he paints. Why he paints what he paints.

For the photorealist, it’s worth considering why one chooses to be a photorealist at all. Why would a sane person do that to themselves?

I don’t know that it’s ultimately necessary to have this knowledge but I know that it’s important to ask these questions of oneself and to answer them truthfully.

The questions never change but for me, the answers continue to morph and shift in unexpected ways.

What do I paint?

If I’m figuring anything out, I’m painting an honest reflection of myself.

(Running Man, 2006 8 X 5.5" acrylic on paper)