Previous to this project, I've mostly worked with cameras that gave me enough to paint from but not enough to really stand alone. This time though I plonked down a wad on a Rebel 2Ti. I'd like to think years of painting has given me a certain aesthetic eye, but at the same time, the new camera has really helped to create stand-alone photos. Going into the purchase I suspected I'd have to start making more nuanced decisions as to what might become a painting and what need not become born again – what's already a fully formed universe.
The question for all painters, but especially those who might fall into or near the realist camp, is "Why am I choosing to make this image with paint? If there's no answer then maybe there's no reason, no justification. Maybe that's an arguable point, but really there's nothing lamer than dudes at outdoor art shows with large printed signs above images of Formula 1 race cars proudly proclaiming "These images are painted by hand. They are not photos!" The Self-congratulation of empty verisimilitude is a tiresome endeavour.
But as to the initial question, the decision to paint or not is highly subjective and personal. The choices manifested in these first studies are principally derived by the attempt to pick source photos that have strong abstract/formal qualities; that while being recognizable in content also slide towards spaces that, for lack of a better word, become contemplative.
Haruki Murakami, in his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, describes the act of running as an attempt to enter a void. As a long-tine runner myself this fleeting void is something to cherish when it slips itself around you. But the act of painting offers a similar space and these resulting objects also might offer some reference to (or evidence of) The Void – at least for myself, if not for the viewer. This question of contemplation, physical exertion and the aesthetics of violence is an ongoing one for me and will likely maintain its presence in the work to come.
Smoke 1 (9"x12"), oil on masonite
Smoke 2 (9"x12"), oil on masonite
Fire at the Village, (9"x12"), oil on masonite
Tracers 1 (9"x12"), oil on masonite
Waiting, (9"x12"), oil on masonite