How does your twofold process work?
I do generally build up the figure in two coats and then sand specific areas. So I have to kind of wait and see what parts to paint according to what I sand, so it goes in different layers. But I do like to build it up and then just tear it down again.
Do you know at the outset which parts of a painting you're going to end up scraping away?
Sometimes it's back-and-forth within the process. Like with this piece, which is titled "Arcadia," I knew that I was going to sand the hands and the skull so those are the things that I paint first. Then I sand those down and build the rest of the figure around it. So at times there is a set path, but I like in the end for there to be some freedom to come in and do weird little tweaks. With the sanding, the interesting part is that it's a different texture from the fully finished piece, so it's most exciting for me when those butt up against each other. So I have to have a solid place to sand and then bring the paint right up next to it.
How did you first develop this process?
It was one of those happy mistakes where I was doing a self-portrait and I hated it. I just didn't want to look at my face anymore, I'd painted my nose really strangely, and I came in an just wiped it off with a Turpenoid rag and I saw that the pigment still stuck into the crevices of the canvas and there was this ghost image. So in the next painting I did I started pushing that further, and started rubbing it off and sanding it. It's more about sometimes just not liking what I paint and feeling a need to destroy it. And then the ghost that's left is the interesting part. Because I've already got the joy of painting it, so it's just destroying the product.
Does this act of scraping have any kind of symbolic value for you?
I'm know that it does, but it's all pretty unconscious. Everything starts as a formal need and curiosity, and I know there's a lot of symbology and emotional content, but it comes out very unconsciously. If I'm aware of it then I become illustrative, and that's ground that I'm really afraid of because I know the big divide between the two worlds.
How do you choose your subjects?
The subjects are always people I know on a personal level, but I still haven't been able to paint, say, a boyfriend who I'm with at the time, because that's almost too intimate. So the people I choose are usually people I'm close to, I'm curious about or have a crush on.
That intimacy really comes through in the work; is that deliberate on your part?
I hope that comes through. I mean, I'm aware of it because I'm with them all the time. I really feel like these people are in the room with me, in a very non-cheesy way. And I have conversations; I'll ask the painting questions if I'm confused about something and wait for images to pop in my head. I know there's energy going into it.