About the Paintings

When I think of the house I grew up in, the places I’ve visited, or the people I’ve known, I’m not drawing on a unified continuum of experience. Rather these entities exist in my memory as collections of moments, collaged together and plastered with a label—Home, School, Friend, Work. Whether very general (e.g., “Human”) or quite specific (“Michael”), these concepts live in the mind as aggregations of snapshots, pasted together in no particular order, the most recent blended with the most distant (and all of the others) to create a representation of whatever the thing, place, person, or idea may be.

My work involves a kind of editing that’s similar to what the brain does in constructing our concepts of the people and things that we remember. I layer many sections over one another, keeping the parts that I like and painting over the less memorable elements, or modifying them so that they fit with my idea of what the whole is (or should be). Just as our brains forget many unremarkable experiences, my paintings contain lots of layers beneath the visible surface, which nevertheless influence their perception in subtle ways.

I begin a new section by defining the top and bottom edges of an area, using a pencil and straightedge. But as I apply paint to the surface, those edges are never maintained perfectly. Even when I tape an edge, the tape often wobbles slightly, or the paint may seep under the tape in spots. To me those graphite lines represent a Platonic or divine perfection—an ideal plan. But the true physical nature of that element, as realized by my flawed, human application of paint, is never perfect. The texture is often uneven, the edges are not clean, and colors bleed into one another. As more layers of color are added, each section necessarily both adds something to the picture, and takes something away (covers something up). And as time goes on, any attempt at perfection falls by the wayside. The new objective is to assemble the accumulated moments of painting into a narrative that makes sense for them within the context in which they find themselves.

So my painting process mimics the passage of time. The moments continue to arrive and to pass. Some are remembered (preserved) and some forgotten (painted over). At certain points in the process a painting will assert itself and lobby me to make particular decisions. An important part of my job is to know when to let the work determine its own destiny and when to lay down the law. But in the end I am in charge, and only the moments that I choose to keep become part of the lasting story.