When I consider my approach to painting, I recall a lecture given by Alexander Nemerov, a personal mentor and former History of Art professor at Yale, on the subject of phenomenology. He spoke of viewing the world through a child’s eyes, as if seeing every element in it for the first time. As an artist, I retain and hope never to lose that approach to the world around me. I believe that no human face or reflection is to be taken for granted, and that even the most mundane expression command one’s scrutiny.
My practice combines painting in the moment with continued work in the studio. Both locations present challenges. Painting in the moment is tantamount to fielding a thousand questions simultaneously, with so many tones and forms requiring attention at once. Back in the studio, the test turns to reworking the piece, harmonizing its elements to create a successful painting while maintaining the vitality of the original subject.
While I think of myself as a constant student of the human figure and portraiture, an education beyond the fine arts has influenced my approach to painting. As a designer, engineer, and educator, I tend towards structured motifs by incorporating manmade forms or finding defined lessons and geometric shapes in pure expression.
More recently, I have begun to explore how I can articulate my understanding of space through painting. A new series of “Mind” pieces is composed from imagination, and incorporates elements such as perspective and motion lines to indicate how I construct a three-dimensional world on a flat surface. I am also experimenting with the idea of “synesthesia,” a neurological condition in which sensory stimuli trigger seemingly unrelated sensory responses. For instance, sound can evoke color, or taste can evoke touch. As a synesthete, I am beginning to integrate my own color and texture responses to sound and words into paintings, to create a more “multi-sensory” experience of a place.
Although I am by no means a representational artist, I do not think that conceptual painting lacks representation or complexity of feeling. Rather, I think there is something quite profound in drawing a viewer’s attention to a human figure through the fundamentals of temperature, expression, form, and light. That one person’s experience with an individual can evoke the same sensation for another through the surface of a canvas astounds me. I believe that relaying the most basic products of human perception is a powerful concept in itself.