I approach my work with spontaneity, quickness, and—when I chance upon it—wit. The emotion or atmosphere of the day influences the work, and I consider the images that result a story of myself. Am I telling the same story over and over? Am I telling new stories? I have not figured it out exactly. What I know, for now, is that the works are both simply and not so simply works of myself, meaningless and meaningful as any emotion can be when rendered as an image.
My process often begins with some familiar image, with a way for me to warm up to the page. I find myself coming back again and again to the image of a shrimp, in part because the image bears sentiment, a “meaning” that has lingered. However, if pressed to express that meaning in words—or even the meaning’s origin—I could do nothing but point back to the image. The shrimp are a trope, a touchstone, a familiar grip from which my work can expand. And, because my process is often very fast, I am painting my way through a vast number of emotional landscapes. At the end of a day, I can sift through the pile of images, swift as a river, and see what catches my eye. But it is the subconscious mind that is in control; it is the subconscious mind that has recorded and understood everything I have done in my life. Vigilant for a glimpse of meaning, this process of selection is a bit like panning for gold; the process is rote—the constant sifting and sorting through the mud—but I might uncover something that shines.
This fluidity, this flow, is essential to my work—and the mediums I choose to employ are derivative of that fluid nature. Paint is one, though there are many others. I can press on charcoal, ink, motor oil, dirt, blood, or urine—anything that will readily flow—and, through experimentation, produce new colors, new images. These mediums help to keep me astray from convention, which is where I’d like to be. When one is astray, he is situated on the outside convention, which allows him to view the inside as well—though, admittedly, from a different perspective. Sometimes I like the view inside and sometimes I like the view outside, but it is when I feel astray that I can allow my attention, my perspective to drift.
When I begin a new work, I begin with the medium. Some artists collect images—and I do reference photographs on occasion—though more often than not, I do not know what will emerge. The unknown, that not knowing, is rooted in the nature of any experiment, and I am deeply interested in experimentation: how burnt paper or dirt can produce an unexpected image. In the end, these images might present a reflection of myself, though that reflection is not necessarily a narrative or even my own emotion. Instead, the image might reflect a plant, a body, or a memory outside of myself that, because I notice it, becomes part of me through the act of my noticing.
I consider a piece to be complete when the lines, shapes, and figures are placed as I see them in nature—like a sleeping child or a tree. In nature, lines are not confirmed, not straight. When a tree (or a child) is growing, it doesn’t grow straight up or down. It grows exactly how it wants to grow: all over. I ultimately want my work to arise from natural instinct, from what is going on inside of me in relation to the outside. That instinct is the flow I am trying to capture, our subconscious, our second nature. Though when someone else looks at my work, they are seeing a part of their story, not mine—which seems to me an utterly natural end.