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Your paintings are obviously very precise; is there an element of chance or randomness when it comes to the scraping? Is that liberating in a way?
Totally. The scraping is extremely liberating and I kind of judge how far to push it, if I want to just be really down to the canvas, or if it's just this light scraping. But it takes away the preciousness of it. And realistic figure painting has a preciousness to it because it's perfected and you've spent hours painting it. And that's where my joy comes from, from painting that. But then it's like I get a high from scraping it down. And once something's kind of scraped or destroyed it opens the door to go in and try new things with it. Things change during the process, it is pretty open. The portrait, the anatomical figure is the basic structure and then I feel like I have the freedom to do whatever I want on top of that.
You mentioned Francis Bacon earlier; are there any other artists who've been especially important to you?
lately and Gerhard Richter
, just in terms of how they distort things. It's still portraiture but the blurring and the color have been a big influence. Really, lately, it's just kind of random images from Tumblr, and a lot of them have been fashion, and it's those colors I'm picking up on. I have a friend in Colorado who's doing a bunch of Photoshop images that he's layering on top of each other. And just that layering, even in Photoshop and flat imagery, really influences me in terms of how to layer glazes on top of stuff, or move stuff around. Even just colors on the sidewalk.
You did a series of collaborative paintings with David Mramor a couple years ago; how was that process for you?
The collaboration show changed my whole process. We went to graduate school together and we were best friends, we lived together, we had a studio together, we were working together, and he was an enormous influence. I would ask him to come in and stare at my paintings with me and he'd say, "I just want to put a big mark right there!" And I'd wonder, can I do that, am I capable of that? Because you get so used to how you paint, so to have someone come in with an opposite style and just be so comforting in what they say and how to move in your work was amazing. There were challenges, like passing a painting back and forth and trusting each other and again it kind of takes the preciousness of it away to hand it to another hand. And the his color choices and line structure...
There are certain abstract forms in this new series that remind me of those collaborative paintings.
Yeah, the patterning. I wouldn't have come to that naturally without seeing him do it on top of the figures themselves. He would even go in with a graphite pencil and do these very delicate lines over certain areas, and I never even would have thought of that.
Was that a conscious decision with this series to try to add those lines and colors?
Conscious and wanting it to come from the unconscious. Not too planned, but the line work has to be pretty structured, especially when it's on a lower level that I know I'm going to be sanding down to, I know it has to be pretty pre-planned. I'm still not sure about how design-y it feels, or how illustrative it feels. I'm just worried about going into too many different areas. Because I still want it to feel organic, even though it's very structured and geometric, so I'm hoping that they compliment each other.