Shifting Ground

The Patriarch. Completed October 2016 in acrylic on panel, 16”x16”.

I bought 20 16x16x2 panels from Albuquerque craftsman Bruce Loyd earlier this year. At the time, I hoped the move would help me expand the dimensions of my painting practice, firstly by giving me a bigger pool of panels to work with than I had with previous bodies of work. I tend to rotate between multiple paintings across a 3-4 hour studio session, picking up a panel when I can see an intervention in it, and letting it go when I feel the life leaving my mark-making, or when I get stumped. With 20 panels to choose from, I found I spent more time swimming in the flow state of looking and making, and less time finding myself confused and distracted by studio chores. Improvement!

When I bought the panels, I imagined that they’d be one body of work. I knew I wanted to focus on portraiture, and I had an expectation-free exhibition site worked out–the month of November, on the community wall at the Erna Ferguson Library here in Abq. So I began work with the loose expectation that I’d do 20 paintings like my drawings “Spock on Vacation” and “The Leading Man”

I began work with the surface-building and underpainting processes I’d developed in my work for my show at Page Coleman Gallery (thanks again, Page!). It soon became clear that my expectations were going to be confounded by the reality of the process, which truly felt like it had its own life. 

During this period, teacher Ivan Boyd (thanks, Ivan!) mentioned Georg Baselitz and David Salle to me. I’d just finished venting spleen about David Salle to my good friends in the AFFA Strategy Team, and told him about it; but blessedly I got over it and looked at Salle’s work again. I got interested in drawing from projections; in the long history of reflection on the process of making images using lenses; and in the kinds of visual frictions Salle got from layered imagery. I borrowed a slide projector and later bought a digital projector, and after many weeks of diddling, got them to work.

I found that my projection-following marks weren’t lifeless. Instead, coupled with the chaos of my surface prep and intuitive underpainting strategies, they were a new way to break my “hand,” a new way to mine living marks from my lifetime of drawing. I found also that rather than being a way to copy images, these drawings from projections were just new jumping off points, new intuitive guesses at ways to find new compositional resolutions in the abstract way of working I developed in the surface+underpainting phase. Walter Bruggemann was the first image that really came together, the first time I knew this was going to be a body of work. 

The work in my new show is the product of the meeting between my recent years of investigation into texture and my recent years of drawing techniques. With this work, I feel I’ve found a technique that I can use to jump into the kind of investigative, community-based artistic journalism I’ve been interested since my time at Albuquerque The Magazine in the middle 2000’s. And for me, that is extremely satisfying. 

Rel to Library

, a public space I love dearly, and one I have a long history with. My first job was at my public library in Lexington, MA, the same library I had one of my first shows at in 1988, and the same library my printmaker mom worked at for many years.

Using Format