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Victim, Linocut on Bristol Board, approx. 7”X9”

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Typically something I would work on at my North Dakota studio, Victim is a brief study in the media with some optimism for improvement in subsequent work. In this small series (3 as you see it) I juxtaposed a portrait of Little Warrior, a survivor of the battle at Little Bighorn, with a personal letter written by Michael Vetter, a soldier who did not. My intent is to portray the ambiguity between villain and victim given the historical (and arguably ongoing) dishonorable interaction with Native Americans by our government.

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Layers

Photo: I often find myself working in layers, much like one would in photoshop. I think it has become a part of the way we see things and understand them. On many handheld devices, for example, we slide between screens as if removing layers. In this case, however, text becomes pattern and pattern bcomes layer,  one overlapping he other.

I often find myself working in layers, much like one would in Photoshop. I think it has become a part of the way we see things and understand them. On many handheld devices, for example, we slide between screens as if removing layers. In this case, however, text becomes pattern and pattern becomes layer, one overlapping the other.

Subtleties

An art is about subtleties, isn’t it? I mean, if you look at the difference between Da Vinci’s work and that of his master, Verrocchio, the difference is not in the subject matter or the endeavor but rather the life-like qualities in the work of art. It’s the nuances, or subtleties make the difference between a lifelike work of art and one that only mimics life.

I’ve started a new painting on this subject. I’ve recognized it in previous paintings I’ve done where this “subtlety” is reflected in the use of color or the near touch between objects but I’ve not really focused on it. So far I’ve restricted the color usage to that of a prior painting and will probably restrict it even further so that the painting is not so much about dramatic color or value but the very slight changes between them. I’m also considering proportions again (and again, and again…) but looking for another way to reflect that study.

So far only the color, proportion, and pattern is evident but, with some more time, additions will soon follow.

Iconography mounted


I enjoy the organization and system of the old library card catalogs and similar outdated systems. Printed text has changed considerably with the advent of digital media and with that refinement a certain amount of apparent human connection with the writing. I am working with the idea of a system that, in a sense, removes that personal impact from the resulting creation while, because of the inherent flaws and unique characteristics of the typewriter, a trace of human contact is remains.

The sketch

I have always been interested in the sketches of the masters- da Vinci, Michelangelo, it didn’t matter; I found the raw idea very interesting, perhaps even more interesting than their finished paintings. A sketch carries a sense of freshness, an urgency or a moment in time unencumbered by refinement and rethinking. In many ways there is a purity in a sketch that is difficult to express in a finished painting. I beleive that same freshness is much the same feeling the German expressionists like those in the Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke tried to present in their work. Naturally context for painting has changed from Europe between the wars as has the subject matter but the essence- human emotion, response, and discourse has not.

In my work I try to reverse the painting process, so to speak. You see, it is my understanding that paintings usually begin on a piece of scratch paper, on a napkin, or in a sketchbook somewhere. Then it is refined, edited, paired down to simplest terms, and put onto canvas in paint or collage or whatever. I do this too, but in my work the painting usually begins with the idea written into my sketchbook and several sketches added of how the idea may be represented visually or metaphorically. Following this I collect additional material like newspaper articles or research on the subject to flesh the idea out a bit more. Then I set up some problems to be solved on the canvas like the devision of space, relationship of the elements, ect. by painting a few of them on the canvas then adding or reducing as need be. Lastly I try to add once again the sketch right out of my sketchbook onto the top “layer” of my painting. An example of this may be “Repetitive Pump in Purple“. In a way I want to invert a painting so others can see the process the idea goes through in the work. I hope this last sketch carries the freshness or urgency of the original idea in some way.