My primary interest in painting is to combine figuration and abstraction. For several years I brought models into the studio and painted them using palette knives and high volumes of paint. The knives and the thick paint guaranteed a certain amount of abstraction, and the presence of the model imbued the work with a spark of veracity - an event occurred, and the painting proved it.
Eventually this mode felt restrictive. Looking over history, very little art has been made this way. Most of it, in one way or another, combines observation and invention, and I wanted to do the same.
After relocating from Miami to Boston, I struck upon a way to do so. Drawing upon some of the early American responses to Cubism, the Japanese "floating world" genre, and fresco painting from the first part of the Quattrocento, I started rendering invented and recalled forms as uniform areas of color. These became compositions of figures within spaces. They simultaneously evoke dimensionality and flatness, and allow for enjoyable opportunities to manipulate a wide variety of color effects. I now switch between invented and observed modes of working.
Texture plays a crucial role in the work, by piling up brush- and knife-strokes and allowing ridges to build at the edges of shapes. Texture takes on some of the functions of drawing, by affecting the way the colors collide against one another, and exerting what looks like pressure or density inside the colors themselves.
Although I'm a figurative painter, I subscribe to the formalist project, to make a painting succeed visually as an object based on color, composition, and material. The subject matter, despite its importance, is secondary. By design, people in my work are shown quietly living, so that a larger statement about the beauty of living can come through. I don't feel drawn to paint abstractly, but I find the problems of abstraction fascinating and rich. Bringing those concerns into a figural effort activates an enormous range of possibilities, and lends the figures a timelessness or symbolic quality that they would lack if they had more detail. Their expressions, attitudes, or thoughts, which a viewer would normally seek out in the faces, instead transfer into the gestures, into the areas of color themselves.
That a colored shape can convey feeling is one of the main reasons I paint. That canny arrangements of colored shapes can imply whole narratives is nothing short of thrilling. I'm an essentialist who believes in the inherent worth of the activity of painting: the confluence of materials, perceptions, and inner life.