Friday, May 18, 2007

Blending Modernist Abstraction with Trompe L'oeil

This week, I installed a “yard sale” air conditioner and some additional lighting in my new studio. Until now, I’ve been too busy these last two months stretching canvas, mounting paintings and framing to actually get anything else done.

I stayed-up late the last two nights painting and smoking camels in my newly organized studio (only took me two weeks to get around to sorting existing portfolios with the newly built shelves). I am working on a new method of painting. Creating on loose canvas rolled-out on the floor and leaving the stretching for afterwards. I’m not the first to work this way. Pollock painted on the floor and stretched after completion. Since I also mix my own paint formulas, the biggest issue is to test the paint tension after the stretch. Experimentation continues to be the most important element in my work. I find the opportunity for evolution in technique a welcoming companion to my quest for patterning a new style.

To what degree does a new art movement demand a specific reference to subject? When is it purely about technical style? My newest series of paintings continue to rely on the aspect of travel as they take-on the look and feel of a topographical map influence. However, my ever-evolving style demands recognition as it blends modernist abstraction with the traditional trompe l'oeil techniques. The last two years have seen my paintings slowly move away from intricate brushwork for the equally detailed utilization of brayers and rollers, sticks and etching tools as drawing utensils. I pour paint where I previously used a fan-brush. I print with hand-carved balsa wood plates where drawings once would have gone. I scratch paint into marks illuminating movement across a fictionalized reality with sticks, medicine-droppers and brayers. Ironically, as I find myself moving further from my traditional realist oil painting roots, the images become more photo-realistic (with a bit of surrealism), once again. The most common statement I heard from the gallery audience at my last opening of map paintings was “I can’t believe that the surface is actually (physically) flat”.

Next week, I will post a series of pictures tracking the creation of a painting in progress. – DN

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