What is my process?
I have a bucket list of objects I'd like to paint—and they're not all shiny. I'm working through my list. I used to art direct photo shoots for my job so naturally, I started gathering up objects and photographing them on different backgrounds and lighting and from different angles. I sift through the photos, narrow them down, crop and manipulate them on the computer. I never copy the photo verbatim, in fact that's near impossible to do anyways. A lot of artistic decisions are made before I paint. It's like a digital sketch of what I want to do. But things change on the fly and I just sort of roll with it.
To start, I often mix paint with gesso and re-gesso the prepared canvas with a wedge so I don't start with a white background. Because I like to paint large, I use a grid system to sketch on the stretched canvas, to keep my proportions accurate. As I block in big shapes, and lights and darks, I pretty much cover up all of my sketch anyways. I call this the "ugly stage". I like to do this with weird colors sometimes. I don't know what other acrylic painters do, but for me, it's a real layering process. I like to see a little unexpected color from the underpainting show through. If I get confused with the complexity, I turn the canvas upside down and paint shapes and colors, working section by section. I can get lost in this. It's actually a lot of fun to work this way. I also step back, photograph the painting or go look in the mirror as I work on it and often see things to correct.
Why paint from reference photos?
I sketch what I call "doodles" from life. But I paint from photos. I know there's a lot of controversy over this. Right now, this is what I am doing. As I said earlier, I often work on large canvases, and it would be difficult to get them done in one sitting and have the lighting be consistent. Early on, I tried an experiment with the same objects painted both ways and decided I liked the result with the reference photo better. I am not saying I will always do it that way.
I happen to like some of the quirkiness you get with distortion from a camera. I think it's kind of apropos, considering the time we live in. I feel like I shoot so many photographs that I get to see all angles and feel like I really get to know the objects by studying them.
Why still lifes?
I think there's a lot of beauty in this world. Everyday objects may not cause an emotion, but they can evoke a memory or motivate the senses. Or prompt a viewer to imagine they're in a space, a place or time. I'm calling these paintings still lifes because I'm zeroing in on a little slice of life. I'm taking a little liberty with the bigger objects, but I still consider them still lifes because even if they are large, they're still objects. Some have more of a story than others. Some are simply studies, because I found value in painting them. A lot of the objects have a special meaning to me. I hope the viewer will connect with them in their own way.
Some examples are:
Food or drink can stimulate the taste buds and bring back memories of a family and friends celebrating.
An old fashioned toy can evoke a memory of childhood when the world revolved around playing.
A beautiful classic car can be nostalgic for someone who used to own and drive one that was similar.
What is the genre?
Photorealism is the closest, although I don't get hung up in trying to copy a photo precisely, I use it as a reference. It's not really Pop Art because there isn't any humor. The paintings ARE bright colors and items from popular culture. I think these paintings are for someone who connects with them and they have a space that allows for bold and big. They're not dark and serious. Probably best suited for contemporary spaces.
What are my influences?
No particular artists come to mind. In the advertising world, we were always encouraged to "think outside the box". Some of the principles of design carry over to painting—emphasis (pushing forward and back), balance, scale, contrast, direction, flow and use similar elements like color, line, shape, value. Design has a way of creeping into all areas of your life—your home decor, clothes and probably my painting. Today, I read art magazines and watch videos to learn, talk to other artists at our art association or at shows. Sometimes I don't want to be influenced too much by anyone. I know I have a lot to learn and I'm open, but as I did in design, I like to push the boundaries and do my own thing.