It stands for interstate. But it's the question, or the nature of such a question that I've been witness to for the past month as my children have been home from school. One child asks questions more.
My other child observes more of what I do, as in what my body is language-ing. Or how I might nag him (or her) to please put down the screen while I proceed to sit there and type email responses. Or how I lose my temper while baking low-carb meatloaf.
To describe my state while painting as speechless is inadequate. I've had conversations, supposedly, with my wife on my cell phone while painting that I barely remember. I mean, I do make noises, words even. But mostly, I experience painting as an ungrammatical stretch of grunts. This is what those who observe me have reported, I don't remember.
Paint realistically. But paint what realistically.
38x38" canvases that I stretched at once to avoid a break between sessions.
From photos that I'd put aside months or years ago. The time lapse seems to have eroded the memory I had of the place down to the photo's composition.
My only painting from the city of Szentgotthard (St.Gotthard). A Hungarian border town that was once isolated due to its geographic proximity to the iron curtain. Not quite a Juarez, perhaps more forgettable. Why I like it.
I've been contacted recently by the freelance journalist Simon Thurston of Pratique des Arts, a magazine in France for art enthusiasts. Pasted below are answers to some of his questions that will be translated (not by me) into French for an upcoming issue. A tangible copy can be purchased at a Parisian newsstand soon.
How do you choose your subjects?
Watercolor is a medium designed for travelers. And for me, this history and tradition of it taken along on adventures into new and exotic worlds, i.e. Sargent/Klee in Egypt or Homer in North America’s wilderness, attaches a transportive aesthetic to the medium itself. And I’m only now realizing this, after 15-20 years of working with watercolor and after recently expanding into acrylic inks and more recently oils, that when I pour a layer of cobalt blue onto paper I’m participating in a tradition of expression that speaks of the longing for the new, for wanderlust-ed horizons of adventure. It is a delicate and ethereal medium used historically to depict the ancient, sublime, monuments of empires of man or nature. A fantastic combination. And so what I look for is somewhere near to this: an angle of our city or civilization that is similarly tired, worn, and marked by millions, because this to me is what watercolor wants to paint.
Do you work from photos?
The deliberate part of my work is photography: examining the photograph, editing the photograph, and prepping the paper and sizing it, etc. There is quite a bit of this work that I consider less “creative”. Much of the painting is a production that I could probably hire out to an assistant if I were more ambitious, but I do everything myself and quite enjoy it. The mechanical aspect of stretching paper, much like a canvas minus the stretcher bars, and enlarging a photograph and taping it, these are steps that I find to be important. They lead up to the creative, ecstatic phase of applying paint. In fact, the more time I feel I invest in building a surface, i.e. panel, canvas, etc., the more precious that surface becomes, and therefore the more sacrosanct the process of painting upon it. It is a rush to spill paint or ink, and I’ve often found this loose application whether with a mop brush or literally tipping the jar to be the most creative thing I do, and yet it only lasts a small portion of the total time. It is when time seems to flow. In the end what you see is a building up of layers that shows a process of working, of developing.
Our culture is an automotive one. Machine based, rage guzzling. Still I’m interested in its experiential benefits, if indeed they objectively exist.
While day-to-day linear movement measures our drive and promotes our wellbeing, inside, the passenger is passive and reflective, unburdened from decisions.
Painting for me is simulating this experience of a passenger. I am contained. From my containment I gaze upon an arena marked by exhaust, haste, and turbulence. I see others, but mostly I see their containers. We are aligned and in accordance.
This is an automotive pastoral. A sensory deprivation vessel. A joyride of attention on the visual.