I had a special moment finishing what would become the first painting of this series. The piece, “Indian Traffic” felt like the beginning of a new chapter, and for whatever reason it seemed to really win. I had been doing landscapes previously that were very colourful. Some were limited to red shades, while others had a full bright palette. I discovered with that first piece that I didn’t need to rely on colour for anything. They became interesting to me in a different way, as I could focus on the contrast and composition without distraction.
This is a collection of paintings / drawings I did mostly in two separate month long bursts. Some were included in an exhibition I had in Canmore this spring called ICONS, which was a part of the RISE emerging artist series. The rest were made this past month in July. The idea with this show was to limit myself to black, white, or any shade between. With some of the paintings I restricted myself even further by only using charcoal and gesso, or only charcoal and an eraser.
I think the amount of choice we have when making art can be paralyzing. It can be helpful to set parameters, almost like setting up a ballpark to work within. I like to limit myself to more primitive sorts of marks, that build complexity and interest only in their combination. Making these choices before the work begins, helps me have more of a rythym and focus while I paint / draw. In a way, I do this with the reference photo too, though there is always a point where I abandon following it is a guide so the work can take it’s own direction. Deciding when to end that process and finish is a hard one. It's a gamble, as you can choose to walk away with what you’ve got, or you can try to win more. Some are more obvious then others. It’s always a great feeling when I’m certain something is done, or at least my part is.
Although the majority of this work is done with fluid acrylic paint, I could easily call them drawings. There is a sense of a sketch, or being “unfinished” in my work. I don’t like the word raw, but that’s probably appropriate. I love the speed of working with charcoal. It’s great not having to constantly pick up paint, which I find helps me make quicker decisions.
These paintings have their colour metaphorically. Black and white has a style of its own, which I find lends well to the dark and chaotic when shown in paint and charcoal. I think this relates to the frantic or overwhelming nature of a crowd or a city, especially coupled with the complexity you get when combining many strokes. I chose to paint city scenes and crowds as I see them as metaphors for our complicated human minds. I wanted them to be unified by my style, but left authentically complex. Balanced and busy.
There are a lot of different ways to talk about art. You can discuss what it is doing formally, how it affects you subjectively, or maybe it's the context surrounding the piece that interests you. A part of me would rather not talk about it at all, and instead escape from the world of words into a place without the literal. Some would say it’s my job as the artist is to steer the conversation in regards to the work. I would like these paintings to celebrate human creative mediation. Me saying this though doesn’t necessarily dictate what the art is about. This work could resonate for you in a way I never thought of, and that is perfectly valid. I don’t have an idea that I work towards realizing when I work. It forms and shifts and begins a life of it’s own. Once I’ve done my part, I think that the viewer contributes. The image starts its journey with the artist who performs translation, but is truly made when the image is filtered and created in the brain of the viewer. This to me is magic and something so common place we forget that it’s mystical.