Wednesday, July 16, 2008
“The capacity to be alone … becomes linked with self-discovery and self-realization with becoming aware of one’s deepest needs, feelings and impulses. Thinking can be regarded as a preliminary to action: a scanning of possibilities, a linking of concepts, a reviewing of possible strategies.” ~Anthony Storr, A Return To Self
Many of my paintings, in fact most of them, deal with a solitary figure. Within my work you will not find groups of individuals; no crowds of people talking or otherwise occupying the space on the canvas. No, I choose to deal with one person at a time in my canvases. Whether it is myself as the subject, a close friend, or a new acquaintance, I prefer trying to capture inward dialogue rather than extrinsic distractions that other figures might bring to a painting.
I have wondered in the past why I choose to paint this way. I think it is because fundamentally all of life is distilled into our own subjective matrix of thoughts and feelings in how we relate to the world around us. Our perceptions are ours and ours alone. No one can see through our eyes and experience life as each of us does. That fascinates me. When I photograph my models and myself for future paintings all I ask is that they do not smile. I suppose I lean a bit towards the melancholic by nature...but smiles are difficult to paint for one, and two, when we are alone we are usually not smiling. We aren't necessarily scowling either, we are just neutral, yet our minds may be racing, pondering, plotting or resolving issues in our lives.
Laura is a new model and friend of mine. I was taken by her cherubic face the first time I saw her. She had such kind eyes and lovely, soft features. We arranged a photoshoot and the resulting painting is what you see before you. I found her dark kitchen an interesting counterpoint to the light coloured wall of her back porch. I wondered how a cropped room beyond her contemplative pose might work into the painting's narrative. I do like the weight of the composition...it might not have been as successful if her kitchen had been a lighter colour perhaps. I enjoyed her look of reverie when painting her...a look similar to when one's eyes cloud over with a moment's remembrance or the contemplation of some future event.
"An art aims, above all, at producing something beautiful which affects not our feelings but the organ of pure contemplation, our imagination."