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)