The formal and conceptual concerns that have driven
my recent work are quite straight-forward.
My interest is in the connection between painting
and photography, and how changes in technology alter and, in
turn, shape our understanding of the world and the way in which
we make images in general and paintings in particular. I am
interested in using the camera as a tool in making a painting
where the photograph- rather than the thing depicted- becomes
Why make paintings if my interest is in photographic
images? The paintings are dependant on photography for their
existence but would be very different as photographs. Photography,
as a medium, would not allow me to make the images as large
as I felt they needed to be to have real impact and would limit
greatly the surface interest that I enjoy exploring through
my work. Each of my solo shows has included the word surface
in the title, in fact, not so much in reference to the surface
of water (Water Series from Surfaces 2006) or the notion
that we invite others to examine our surface/image
through self-publishing (Surface/Image 2008) but to draw
attention to the surface of the canvas; to stress the importance
of painting being about applying pigment to a flat surface in
interesting ways. I enjoy a painting that the viewer both looks
through, in a photo-realistic sense and looks at, in terms on
examining the formal qualities of the actual paint and how it
is applied. The juxtaposition of enjoying the photographic likeness
while being constantly pulled back to noticing the non-objective
application of the pigment itself is an important aspect of
The Surface/Image series was begun in 2006
through an Artsnb creation grant. My interest in this series
is in how changes in technology are dramatically changing the
way that people are taking photographs and in the impact of
this revolution in photography on portrait painting. Young people,
in particular, are snapping hundreds of shots very quickly,
at unusual angles, and in different lighting situations, without
planning, wherever they happen to be. There is a huge amount
of editing; only the most interesting or most expressive of
their desired image are saved and posted on self-publishing
sites such as Facebook. The resulting photographs are
becoming a very important vehicle for self-expression: a modern
sort of diary, documenting the growth and development of these
young people. The photographic references are from pictures
that my high school students have taken of themselves using
simple, hand-held digital cameras and the paintings are clearly
referenced from photographs, rather than from direct observation.
Some are from black and white or colour-enhanced images and
may include reflections or shadows of the photographer, out
of focus areas or motion blur, clearly defining them as photographic.
I hope my viewers will begin to think about how
we create an image for ourselves and use it for
communication, and for socialization, and how much information
a visual image of our surface appearance can convey.
My interest in questioning what is real, begun in
the Water Series, continues with the Surface/Image portraits.
In thinking about the notion of reality versus perception, Im
reminded of hearing of a parent who, upon being told she had
a beautiful child said, You think he is beautiful- you
should see his photograph!
Meta consists of a series of canvases
that, from a distance, "read" as photo-realistic studies
of close-up views of paint, from up close appear to be painterly,
non-objective arrangements of paint with lots of surface interest,
and conceptually, stimulate a questioning of the very notion
of what painting is, what is real, and what defines realism,
photorealism and abstraction.
I am very interested in exploring the self-referential
aspect of using the material to depict the thing being depicted.
In using paint to paint a painting of paint with a photographic
reference, a paradoxical concept presents itself. Consider a
blob of blue paint on a surface sitting on a surface not intended
to be 'art'. It is real. If it is meant to be hung as an abstract
work, it is Abstract Expressionism. If it is intended to depict
a sky, it is a representational painting. If the blob of paint
is photographed and the photographic image is reproduced using
the material being depicted, there is very little about it that
is 'real'; yet, my intention is for the works to be received
as looking very 'real' or 'realistic'. I am very interested
in the circular nature of the act of making paintings of paint.
I suspect that increasingly, our acceptance of
images as being realistic comes from comparing our stored information
that is gathered, not by looking at the real world, but by taking
in, on some level, the countless two-dimensional images that
we consume daily. Increasingly, technology is influencing our
acceptance of reality. There is a wonderful irony in thinking
about the viewer noticing the paint I have used to perfectly
capture the appearance of the image of the paint that I have
photographed. I enjoy post-modern work that explores the juxtaposition
of new technology with conventional materials and approaches.
I will invite my viewers to enjoy looking both at the surface
(at the paint) and through the surface to the depiction of the
photograph of paint.
Some of the works entitled. My Little Sister
Could Do That, are non-objective arrangements of paint
that challenge the misconception that successful abstract works
that do not attempt photographic likeness require less technical
ability on the part of the artist.
I included an installation entitled, I Dont
Know Anything About Art. I Just Want Something Nice to Hang
Over My Sofa to Match My Living Room as a transition piece
from a previous series to segue to the installation entitled,
I Dont Know Anything About Art. I Just Want Something
Nice to Hang on My Wall for Video Conferencing.. My aim
is in drawing attention to the increasing interest in private
art acquisition due to the explosion of ZOOM and other video
conferencing platforms in the age of Covid 19.
This series is made possible through the support
I Dont Know Anything about Art. I Just
Want Something Nice to Hang Over My Sofa to Match My Living
This work attempts to address postmodern issues
of elitism, originality, and authenticity in this digital age
when consumers buy their art at the same places they buy their
groceries and underwear, and to raise these questions with humour,
irony, parody, and paradox. The idea for this work came to me
when my mom made the statement that has become the title of
this show, I Dont Know Anything about Art. I Just Want
Something Nice to Hang Over My Sofa to Match My Living Room.
So I started by painting an image of her sofa which I then hung
over it and painted a painting of it and so on until the paintings
of the paintings got so tiny that I couldnt see them anymore.
The rest of the work grew from there and is all about starting
a dialogue about the idea of being a consumer of art.
Postmodern art often reacts against elitist, avant
garde art that is accessible to a very small entitled audience
and that makes the rest of us feel left out when we dont
get it. In pieces like This is a painting This is
a pillow I wanted the viewer to realize they really are the
same thing- some paint on a piece of cloth- so why, then, is
the painting all precious and mysterious whole the pillow is
just a common object?
In another pairing, two identical canvases proclaim,
This is Art and This is craft. The first piece has painted text
and the second is embroidered.
Some pieces raises issues about originality and
authenticity: in the Real Winners series I put real paint over
big box store giclee prints to turn them into real
The most recent pieces in this series have been
made over fabric stretchers and come with a matching pillow,
some of which have been created over water resistant fabrics
intended to be hung outdoors. Many have the commercial paint
colours listed on the back so the consumer can match the paint
colours to their space. In fact, customized spin
paintings made on a pottery wheel are available to be created
in commercial house paint colours selected by the consumer.
Instead of trying hard to make art that matters this time, I
have really enjoyed making this SCAM- by Shamelessly Creating
Art that Matches.
This work was made possible through an ArtsNB