I paint in my studio. I do draw and sketch in the wild when I can. I travel far and wide to participate in life drawing sessions. But! I paint primarily in the studio from my photographs.I'm telling you this because I've had a few questions about it lately. Today Plein Air painting is all the thing. I love it and have some favorite practitioners. But I work best in the studio on the board. I feel safe there. I can work in my underwear. I can have the Weather Channel on the TV or listen to an Stephanie Plum's latest misadventures. I can take a nap, which may be because I'm getting older which of course I'm not. But this is how I've always done it saince I was a teenager painting down in the cellar next to the furnace of my childhood home in Bradford, in my air-shaft studio at Kennedy Studios on Beacon Hill in Boston in the 70s and the Cupola in the old firehouse near South Station. Or my cramped 1 bedroom apartment in the Murray Hill neighborhood in Manhattan and all the other tiny spaces I've worked in.
I'm either working out of my head or working from photos that I have taken of things, places and people over the past many years. To build an image I cycle through these photos like a manic looking for the clues to where the voices are coming from. But for me it's not voices but stories and memories that call to me from my pictures. Stories that fade in and out and are forgotten and found and forgotten again. There is excitement and anticipation in every memory card filled only to be forgotten with every new iPhone camera click or when an ancient roll of prints from film or box of slides is rediscovered.
Mostly these photos were shot as sketches of the moment or place or light or time of day or object. They are like pencil marks on the pad for me. All. Every once in a while, while doing my manic shuffling, I find, I see the image I've lost and am looking for and have been looking for for years. The process of building a painting begins.
I usually craft my photos into compositions that couldn't have been painted on the fly or in Plein Air while chasing light, rain, tide and the need to use the men's room.
Not by me at least.
in the studio I can go through my anxious process of anticipation, preparation, loathing, hope and redemption over time. Not on location for surely it would kill me to suffer it all in an afternoon. I know this because every time I try - that's what happens. I'm slower than my surroundings.
I like being surrounded by my dried palette, little science experiments and disorder. Somehow it's the constant interchange with the disorder that I love. It seems the only way I can create harmony on the canvas.
I'm a studio painter.
This image lures hanging in a window is an example of the 'manic shuffle' I had lost the set of images used to build this composition years ago. I had done several watercolors from this 2004 photo shoot in Rockport Harbor. I started building this composition in 2006. Abandoned it for 6 years while at the corporate sweat shop. When I emerged early this year I couldn't find the images and sadly gave up on the picture that was in my head. In June I found them on an old hard drive. I spent a month tweeking the composition and painted it this in August. Most paintings don't happen like this for me. Only the good ones.