If you have not read Part 1 or Part 2 of this series you may want to do so prior to reading this installment. I’ve let this series lag for far to long but I am finally getting back to it. As a reminder the idea of this series is to trace the development of my artistic work so you should definitely go back and read the first two to get context.
When I first thought up the societal portraits, I envisioned paintings very close to what I was doing in the Polychrome Series. But after a short while, It just wasn’t enough. Part of my challenge was that I was struggling with color. Color is hard and in the series I was just throwing all the colors into the work and I did not have a strong sense of how to effectively use it. I finally made the choice to limit my palate. I had also taken a course on artistic materials and I became interested in experimenting with materials. Finally, I felt that my work was flat both literally and conceptually so I was looking for ways to add layers of meaning and physicality.
In my paintings, I transitioned away from oil paint to a mixed media process. I had learned in my materials class that matte medium can be used to glue down paper. I began my new process by glueing paper down on my canvas. The type of paper depended on the concept of the painting. It was typically newspaper at times related to a theme but I also used pages from the New Testament. The next step was to draw my biomorphic shapes on top of the paper in charcoal. I used vine charcoal so that the lines would dissipate as I worked on the painting. The final letter was made with oil sticks which for those who don’t know are basically really large oil based crayons. The oil stick work was then gone over with a thinner to blend the colors and break down the lines themselves causing dripping from one form to another. Probably the most drastic change in the work though was the change of palate. I abandoned the bright colors for earth tones as I was seeking to bring a greater sense of gravitas and history to the work.
In this series, both the composition and the collaged text gave hints to the concept driving the work. The piece Conventional Wisdom was painted on newspaper as a primary source of wisdom still in 2000 and one rectangle is centered while the other is to the side. Root was painted over the financial pages from the New York Times then there was some free form writing referencing the concept that the love of money is the root of evil. Finally, the composition of the piece clearly references money. The painting There is no Grey is painted over the New Testament with a composition that references the narrow path. The untitled drawing here more broadly references my overriding concerns in this series which were about juxtaposing and integrating the idea of the biomorphic shapes referencing a sort of “natural” humanity while the geometric forms more broadly reference our constructed culture.
Developing an Artistic Voice