My paintings are composed of one or more shapes traced from commercial packaging. I keep these objects and work with them repeatedly, making drawings from variations I manipulate. I think of them as a growing collection of “Standard Stoppages,” and particularly enjoy objects that, while clearly mass produced, are obscure as to their original brand or purpose—so that the mystery of their identity unfolds to viewers only in my painted reiterations.
A buxom paper label from a honey bear bottle, the dynamic “torso” of a flattened plastic collar from a six pack, the architecture of unfolded gift boxes, the curled fiddle head-like scroll of an extruded sock holder, the cardboard “antlers” from my little daughter’s Christmas pageant: all came from the drawing board of an anonymous designer. My scavenged rediscovery of them, I hope, is like recycling—from the prose of “product” to the poetry of revealed form, literally a redress of the original artist’s throw away eye.
Often the subjects have, as a component of their composition, a pattern. These usually derive from “security envelopes,” those intricate, complicated, various graphics used to prevent exposure of the interior of a business envelope: a screen to prevent seeing. As shapes not meant to be seen, let alone admired aesthetically, they strike me as the perfect backgrounds to my figures.
Whatever the initial motive around subjects, the end result has to please me as painting. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. The gouache and heavy paper that are my current mediums can themselves become subject to regeneration—with a scrub brush in the bathtub—an echo of the retrievals that formed their first coats.