I get a lot of questions about how I make my work so I have gotten good at anticipating what exactly people want to know. So here are a few frequently asked questions, just in case you were wondering.
Your paintings are so real, what exactly are they?
They are 100% paintings, I use techniques that have been around for hundreds of years. I start with a drawing on a wood panel and then I begin working in oil in multiple thin coats. I do let a bit of the modern world sneak in by working from photographic references along with working directly from life. I like using photos because I can really refine the lighting. Photos also serve as a kind of sketch, I can eliminate bad ideas quickly or try ideas out without committing to the lengthy process of painting.
How do you make your paintings so lifelike?
The simple answer is, very slowly. I work by building up the painting with multiple thin layers. As the painting proceeds it gets more and more precise and the color relationships get better. The paintings never really start out all figured out, it takes a bunch of corrections and refinements to get what I am looking for. If you were able to x-ray one of my paintings you would find three or four similar paintings underneath. Each new coat can mellow out the contrasts in the last. Part of the reason I work in oil paint is the ability to make changes over a long period of time.
How long does it take you to do a painting?
My paintings are fairly labor intensive. They take from a minimum of three days for a small painting to many months for a large one. The typical painting for me takes two to three weeks. I work much like you would at any job, I get in the studio and work all day, taking as few breaks as I can. My paintings take so many hours so that unless I really bear down and work all of the time it just doesn't seem like I get anything done at all. To pass the time I like to listen to audiobooks or documentaries.
How long have you been doing this?
I was one of those kids that couldn't stop drawing, by the time I was able to go to college there was little doubt I would go into art. I graduated from art school and was lucky enough to go straight into painting full time, first doing portrait commissions and soon after doing fine art for sale in galleries. I really started painting in oils in my freshman year of college in '88 and have been painting ever since.
How do you get your ideas?
I am an art book junkie, that always helps. I am always looking at what is happening out there and at art of the past. There is also a funny kind of conversation you have with yourself with your art. When I finish a painting, I will immediately have an idea about how to do it better or funnier or weirder. Sometimes I am just entertaining myself and keeping myself stimulated. I suppose I am also driven to make interesting art for my peers.
Are you a photo realist?
Umm, sort of. Photo-realism was a movement of painting born out of minimalism in the early 70's. Part of what photorealism was about was challenging long-held beliefs about painting. It made fun of the technical genius mythology that had long been part of painting by making perfect mechanical painting that was soul-less. A photorealist copied a photograph and all of its quirks, like the lens distortion and blur to question what painting was really all about. In this way I feel a kindred spirit, I too wonder what it all means and why art matters and really enjoy asking similar questions in my art. If you were to get technical though, I didn't start in the 70's and for the most part I don't paint the blur or the distortion so I don't really qualify as part of the movement.
How would you describe your work?
I guess the easiest way to describe what I do, is to understand a bit about me. I love anything technical. Often the more difficult the task the more interesting it becomes. I love the history of painting, art and culture and it informs everything I do. But, at the same time I am a child of contemporary art. While sometimes the old ways are best, often they are stagnant and need to be challenged. So the heart of my practice is conflict. I believe in painting though I am not sure why and much of what I painting is engaged in exploring this idea.
Are these paintings available for sale?
Yes, I do sell my work. However this website is a collection of highlights from the last several years, so many of the paintings have been sold. If you are interested in a painting send me an email and I can let you know the price and availability.
Do you accept commissions to create a new painting?
Sometimes. I will accept commissions when the painting is consistent with my body of work, but not too close to another work I have completed in the past. I like the idea of each painting being unique. A collector may really want a painting that has been sold so we will come up with some change to make it different and stand on it's own right. Before I start a commission we will agree on a composition based on photographic "sketches".