What are you working on in your studio right now?
I recently received a commission to make paintings for the lobby of a new building in mid-town Manhattan by the Durst Organization. I am also preparing for a solo show of my work that will be in the lobby of the Conde Nast building at 4 West Times Square in New York from November 2013 to January 2014.
Can you describe your working routine?
I am usually in the studio between 8:30 and 9AM and work until around 7:30 PM. I work seven days a week. There is no set routine other than that. One day may be spent working on paintings, while the next day may be spent building shipping creates and ordering materials.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I have had many different kinds of spaces. The large works that were exhibited last January at George Lawson Gallery, LA were all made on the cement floor of a converted tobacco factory in Durham. That space was extremely tight and challenging to move around in. I had a wonderful large space in Philadelphia when I lived there. I could leave things up on the wall to consider over a period of time. My current studio space is the main part of the house. It consists of two large rooms, an office and a workshop. The painting studio has an abundance of natural light and big double doors to move large works in and out. In the morning and evening hours I often see deer, eagles and owls. These natural surroundings provide a stimulus for my work. I am certainly affected and inspired by the movement, rhythm, time, changing light, color, and mood.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
My process has evolved quite a bit. When I first considered the idea of working freely with forms in my paintings, I tried to use epoxy resins. I had experience working with fiberglass and resins from when I built boats as a summer job while I was in school near Lake Michigan. But the resins didn’t work. The paintings were prohibitively heavy and brittle and I couldn’t control the color. Additionally, the materials were hazardous. I nearly set my studio on fire once when I put too much catalyst (MEK) into the mixture. In terms of process, I draw and sketch all the time. I am constantly experimenting with gestures and forms, relationships and color. I usually make small paintings first. I think of them as finished paintings but they also inform the larger works. My large paintings are a huge investment in time, effort and materials. Some of them consist of 10 to15 gallons of paint. One part of my studio is set up much like an arena. I paint on the floor walking around the work. I often make brushes out of large floor mops or brooms. The act of painting is much like a dance. While creating a large painting, I am stretched to the limits of my physicality. The act of painting records my reach at a specific time and place. I suppose one could say in this way that my paintings are self-portraits.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
I would like to spend more time making paintings and less time dealing with the business aspects of running a busy studio e.g., making schedules, shipping, building boxes, ordering materials, etc.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I truly enjoy working with traditional oil painting methods but once my concept or idea of what a painting could be changed, my materials had to change too. I’ve spent several years talking with chemists all over the world and am on a first name basis with virtually every art materials manufacturer in trying to perfect my paint and process. I can finally say that I am happy with the materials I am using now. They are safe, odorless, water based, light-weight, and I can do just about anything I want in terms of painting. Because I mix micro bubbles into my paint I suppose one could say I am using nanotechnology in my painting process.
What does the future hold for this work?
The conceptual area I am working in opens up so many possibilities in painting. I haven’t even scratched the surface. I have numerous sketches and prototypes of new directions I am interested to explore. Each direction could keep me busy for years.