Conceiving a Painting

This part is a bit tricky to explain, please bear with me. What I end up painting almost always starts out as a visualization; that is, I internally see it (pretty much in its entirety) before I set out to create it. However, most of what I experience in my mind’s eye tends to reflect quite a bit of already established/preexisting imagery. So, I begin sorting through what’s genuinely imagined and what’s not. By way of my own firsthand memories, photos and notes (or vicariously through those of others) I reference, re-reference and separate all that is recall from all that is made-up. This process of repeated visual crisscross-comparison in turn serves to further galvanize my original vision until I feel proficient enough with it to begin committing everything I’m “seeing” to canvas.

Building a Painting
When I begin to actually make a painting they almost always start out as drawings. Since I paint in a Northern (opaque to transparent) fashion, the drawing stage is where I’m at my freest. This is where most of the accidents and chance happenings that many painters are so found of tend to arise. Once I have a drawing outlined, I’m pretty much roped into what I’m doing and so begin to complete a full tonal study and quick color key before proceeding to canvas.

I work on heavyweight cotton “duck” not linen. This material is almost always stretched over a solid wood (poplar or birch) panel to give added backing and support. I size the canvas (two coats) and may apply as many as ten coats of gesso, always sanding between coats.

Oil based paint is first applied as a loose tonal-underpainting on to a neutral tinted background. I then build my tones up in a typical "fat on lean" background to foreground fashion. These initial applications are opaque and usually consist of three to five coats. When the piece is completely blocked in this way I begin to add the final details. After those are in place, I then start the final transparent color “glaze” coats as well as the highlights. I usually finish a piece with an entire tinted glaze coat once everything underneath has completely dried. After the piece is completed I paint the sides (usually black) then label and crate accordingly.

Leaving a painting
For me, when it comes to saying goodbye to the things I make, what I am basically going for is this: Once they’re done, I try my best to escort my work from a private place of personal habitation to a more accessible and public place of sharing. After the pieces have had a decent chance to be presented and seen, I offer them up (via the highest bidder) to the great absolute knowing full well that they’ll be carried on to whatever ends they ultimately deserve. That’s it. After this, I try my darnedest not think about where they are or where they may end up (closet, expensive wall, trash heap etc.) and simply concentrate on whatever’s next.