I enjoy drawing with charcoal, skinny willow charcoal. The mark is sensitive to the amount of pressure. The hand reveals so much of the emotional intent of the maker. Taking time to look, with fresh eyes, requires being totally in the present moment. Most of the paintings you see here today, I drew before I painted.
How do I start a painting? Most of the time, I start with a visual, a live model or a photo reference. My source material also includes images from my dreams, and things I see in my day-to-day life that make me stop with curiosity to appreciate their beauty. I make a collection of images that are a start for a painting. There are also times that I start making marks with no idea of what the outcome will be. In this method, I simply respond to what I see, and the result satisfies me when I find it reveals something I mean to say. These are often less realistic, with the image formed not intentionally. An example of this is “The Protector” which is the little painting hanging above my desk.
Going back to the question, how do I start a painting? I have my drawing and then the question is, “how does the drawing change into a painting?” Experienced painters say, “Do not get precious with your original drawing, let the painting evolve to this new medium of clunky paint. You can come back to it and bring in elements of the original painting.” But I find, that sometimes, you can’t go back and must be in the moment with the painting evolving forward.
Presently most of my work involves a process in which a painting begins with adding cold wax medium in a 1:1 ratio with oil paint. I apply this with a squeegee in a minimum of three layers to a wood panel. In this malleable stage, the oil and cold wax medium is receptive to a wide range of textural techniques. This mixture is wet, but has body and is imprinted by nearly everything that goes into it. The surface can be built up with palette knives, brayers and squeegees or scraped away or incised with lines, as the many layers are added.
When making a painting there are many new factors that come into play, which are not in the original drawing. These include, among others, value (degree of light and dark), color scheme, texture, and creating depth of field. When I do start with an intention, I may have to let it go, and let the painting start telling me what to do. I come back to the painting, and respond to what I see.
Over time my paintings evolve. This process may take a few months or many years. Each step adding layers, complexity and depth, leaving traces visible by the transparency of the paint and wax removal, a visual history of the process. I improvise to the unplanned nature of this medium.