Last March I began a completely new series of paintings, a sharp change of direction from the highly-textured text-based abstractions I’ve been making the past few years. The insular first months of the Covid-19 pandemic coincided with a long cold, grey damp spring here in the Great Lakes midwest, conditions conducive to long hours of uninterrupted work in the studio. Inspired by a one-of-a-kind piece (“Dream Writing,” below) I painted years ago and dreams I’ve written down in journals over the years, I set off in this new direction.
These paintings are not literal transcriptions of dreams, but they begin with an image from a dream and the composition grows from that. Personal associations, inspiration from other artists (in the art we call that a “reference” not a rip-off), stuff hanging out in my studio, nature, memory and emotion – it all gets painted onto the canvas. In the painting below you’ll even find pretty little Covid-19 viruses, based on the scientific models of the virus I was seeing in the news at the time.
As I get into this series I’m less afraid to portray people, and less abstract in style, but just as painstakingly detailed as ever. It’s more of a compulsion that an artistic choice, that. And here is the piece I’ve just begun:
We’ll see where this takes me.