Art can be a deconstructive process. I learned to draw by breaking down what I was seeing into parts and shapes and areas of form and texture. As a design student I practiced taking things apart, conceptually speaking, and reducing those things to essential qualities that somehow got a point across. This methodology has been honed throughout my career as a professional graphic designer and art director.
Whenever I design something first I have to understand it completely. That means it must be broken down. I think this is one of the hallmarks of abstract thinking.
This characteristic is of great value when one wants to be original. In 2000 I wanted to paint a canvas. A piece of fine art. Something real. Something serious. Like "thought". What would "thought" look like if I wanted to paint "thought".
It took two years of experimentation to come up with a technique that approached what I perceived. The problem – what I perceived was so far removed from reality I didn't know how it could even be depicted. It can be surprisingly difficult to paint a picture of nothing and make it look like something deliberate and original, and be art.
And it is not exactly nothingness. There is always a flow of something around us. Perhaps not always a pulse but an ebb and swell, continual currents – oceans, rivers, veins, the air. Then there is our human-ness. Thoughts in an endless stream of consciousness, the hum of motors and electricity, the inner hum of each and every soul. This is what I attempt to depict in my paintings.
Making the "stream of consciousness" visual presented some interesting challenges to me as an artist. As a graphic designer it is the ultimate example of reducing an idea down to a visual system that demonstrates itself. The "stream" just happened and one brushstroke became a line of strokes that fluctuated as my mind dictated. My stream of consciousness was thus transferred to the canvas and thought became visual.
I suppose you could say that about any artist and any artwork. Each artist manifests his thought process through the medium to the surface material. The distinction is the intent. I intend my paintings to represent streams of consciousness. I want the paint to be paint, but it cannot just go wherever it pleases. And this is not anything literal. At times I have tried to incorporate a literal subject but the results always leave me shaking my head.
Several of my paintings feature a narrative element that is most often a stream of thought. In the painting, Afterlife I journaled directly on the canvas as I was painting the metaphorical stream ahead of the text. This works as a concept for me because the text stream is relatively incoherent and serves as a visual representation of the greater stream.
I do not shun the literal. My drawings and graphic art lean towards realism. I enjoy drawing this way. As a graphic designer I strive to wring out excessive literalism and give things nice smooth lines. In graphic design it is important to reduce and deconstruct in order to say, design a logo.
For me, the appeal is imposing my particular order on something as inert as paint to represent something as nebulous as thought. What I realized, was the stream of consciousness is endless – as long as the neurons keep firing and the blood keeps pulsing – the stream goes on.
Thanks for reading!