I know a drummer who prefers to say that he plays ‘traps (short for contraptions.) And I like to say I make concoctions. Selecting the right word is important to me, so I like that ‘concoctions’ are made by playing, experimenting, and invoking or even counting on a convoluted and, possibly, secret process.
I’m especially curious about how forms interact within a world of thick versus thin, lighter versus darker, softer, harder, and bigger against smaller. So my mark-making process is sporadic, and I count on surprise, failure, harsh judgment, doubt, and finally, on coalescence. Once I’m not moving the paint, it’s still for all time. I continue to do this work (the work of “concocting paintings”) because the final products are a sort of stable mystery to me.
I made an assemblage once which incorporated the body of a goldfish of mine that had just died, and entitled it a blind swimmer. I can’t think of many braver things than a blind swimmer. When I think back to this image, I somehow picture the scene where someone arrives at water’s edge, dressed perfectly and practically for a distance-swim. They might even be greased in Vaseline for speed. This blind swimmer arrives knowing how to swim long distances and has chosen to do so. If they somehow just swim straight, they could go from England to France. To actually accomplish this, they simply need to push off straight, and count on that initial direction carrying them the distance. Yet how unimaginable is that?
When I start an oil painting, I have the determination to swim to France, blind, and the willingness to believe I can keep going straight. But the result proves I’ve gone off course from almost minute one and am lucky to be alive! The tangible result is a painting which can be swum in, and read the way animal tracks are read.