My work deals with perception, and the mind's ability to compensate for missing or obscured visual information. I'm interested in how the feeling of being lost, disoriented, or out of place heighten our sense of awareness of our surroundings. What can appear at first glance to be an abstract painting is actually a realistic representation of the landscape as I saw it under certain conditions. For example, driving on the highway during a severe winter storm: everything outside of the car is a swirl of white. You can't make out the shapes of the cars around you, but you can see the red of brake lights in front of you. You are able to adjust and judge the distance between you and the car in front of you, and how fast it is going. Two obscured red lights in a field of white become your eyes' only reference point, and the mind uses past knowledge and cognition to connect the dots and recognize what you are seeing. The same thing happens when you see a house framed by Christmas lights, or a city skyline on a foggy night.
In addition to weather conditions that abstract the landscape, I have recently become interested in photographic source material for painting. Similar to fog, snow, and artificial light, there are elements of photography that obscure visual information. Lens flares, halation, and the inherent flattening of space in photography create a different version of the world than we see with our eyes. Photographs transform our perception of a moment in time in much the same way that atmosphere transforms our perception of space.
I'm interested in the idea of selective memory. We all remember the faces of family members, but maybe not a specific detail of the background in an old family portrait. Photos "remember" everything equally, and I question the importance of this. Our identities at any given time are shaped by memory and past experience, and I want to know where those seemingly insignificant details factor in to this. When I paint from a photographic source, I keep this in mind. This is why I don't try to simply copy photographs or make explicit the photographic reference. Merely recreating a snapshot with paint seems like a waste of time; the photo is already there, and an exact painted copy won't do anything new. I'm more interested in creating a new image that is wholly a painting rather than an imitation of a photo. I search for the bare minimum amount of visual information required to signify the essence of the memory. I alter, exaggerate, add, and eliminate elements until I think I've found it. Sometimes, it turns out that minor background details do somehow contribute. Something about a potted plant off in the background behind your grandpa at the airport, or an overturned canoe on a lake shore. They have nothing to do with the person in the foreground, but everything to do with the memory.
As my painting practice develops, these two modes of working are slowly but surely converging. My most recent work combines elements of landscape and photo-based imagery in single paintings. Using these two methods in conjunction, I hope to create a denser layer of warped perceptions of space and time, and push and pull between realism and abstraction.
(I apologize for the formatting. I can't figure out how to indent paragraphs on this thing.)