Artist's description:

Part of my ongoing (since 1988) "Work Party" series.

In much of my work over the last 25 years, I've concentrated on the interplay of objects in contrived, artificially-lit interior settings. This stems from projects I had developed for undergraduate painting classes, in which I sought to teach students how to 'see' with their eyes and not with their brains. For example, a student sees a chair, and renders all four legs squarely on a horizontal floor, regardless of whether or not they are actually all on the same plane… or even visible, for that matter. In a "color" example, a student sees a still life setup with a white drape in it, and invariably starts out with gobs of white paint in order to render the "white" of the drape. Of course, the white drape is anything but white… it may actually be a middle gray value, tinged with either reflected or ambient light.

In order to illustrate this to students, I began setting-up very elaborate still life arrangements, suspending objects from the ceiling with fishing line, in order to remove their "functional" objecthood, and forcing students to consider these objects solely on the basis of their spatial relationships with each other. Then, by adding theatrical lighting and colored gels, I was able to literally 'change' the color of objects, which forced the students to learn how to 'see' the objects' color relative to the rest of the artificially-colored arrangement. At the start of these exercises, I would frequently do a quick paint sketch, in order to further illustrate the concept.

Over time, I became so interested in this process that I began utilizing it within my own work, first utilizing models in elaborately-constructed, colorfully-lit environments, and later, taking the same approach and focusing primarily on smaller-scale still life arrangements.

For these paintings, I like the juxtaposition of playful objects — primarily balloons and antique toys collected over the years — against utilitarian objects such as hand tools. I will frequently include sharp objects such as blades or broken glass, and the entire composition will typically be lit using one or more colored lights, throwing intense, high-chroma color against deep shadows. I try to find a balance between achieving a 'realistic' rendering and allowing the physicality of the paint - and the 'process' of painting — to remain visible.

Materials used:

oil paint

The Work Party IX (1989)


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