Monday, July 1, 2013

A New Series of Figurative Paintings

Though I've always been especially drawn to painting people I know--sometimes over and over again--about a year ago I began thinking about going even further in this direction and painting my family members as characters in scenes of my own imagining.

My idea was to bring people together from different places and time periods, and to set them in scenes that would look "real" in a sense, yet have an element of something beyond realism. Would this be called "magic realism?" I'm not sure. I also wanted to continue exploring the use of symbolic visual language, and ways of suggesting meaning without telling the viewer how to interpret the painting.

I was afraid to begin the first painting, but an idea kept nagging at me. I was looking through my digital files and saw a particularly good photo of my brother's mom blowing out the candles at her 80th birthday party. Then I remembered I had a similar photo of my mother at her 80th birthday. When I put the two photos together in my mind I saw them blowing towards each other, creating a firestorm in the middle of a huge cake between them. Letting my imagination run, I saw my father (who died 40 years ago) rising out of the flames. The whole scene began to take shape in my mind, and it was not until then that I realized it was a painting about a wish for transformation, for positive change.

More paintings followed this one. I'm exploring ideas and connections and interests and feelings that have been important to me all my life. It's kind of scary to be doing this, but it's incredibly enjoyable, too. And the people in my family have been such good sports, posing for me in different positions and under odd lighting conditions, without knowing exactly what I was going to "do" with them!

This September I'll be showing some of these paintings in a solo show at the Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, ME. The show is called The Unseen Aspect and it will open September 6th. Stay tuned for more details.

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