February 2019

When I paint, I listen to my materials, to my own voices and to the paintings themselves. I reduce the noise, almost to a void. When it’s quiet, I can channel impulses that I’m not aware of – such as the colors of a glacial landscape or the cancers in a presidential election. Still, I don’t make a picture of something.

Instead, I improvise. My instrument is oil and canvas or watercolor and paper. Sometimes the instrument includes other surfaces or detritus; or other mounts, such as malleable aluminum. Whatever the materials, the painting is an ecosystem with its own laws and gifts – like weather, gravity, plants, hot sun and erosion. I enter cautiously and try to leave no trace. 

When I improvise, time seems to stop. For a few moments, instead of worrying about the world, I can be like weather or a wave. My body says “go” or “no-go” to every increment of line and color. Whether it's too much darkness, not enough complexity, too much allusion, not enough history, too much geometry, not enough singularity – when I’m improvising, I’m part of the ecosystem.

I listen to the paintings too, which continue to complain until they’re finished. Usually it’s because there’s not enough clarity, or simply not enough. I aspire to a poem without words.