Artist’s Statement

Aside from a short lived and futile dream of becoming a Rockette, I have been an artist from the moment I could grab a Crayola and draw on my bedroom walls. As a child I was a stutterer and discovered that because vocalizing was impossible for me, visual communication was a means to have those around me understand the stories I wanted so desperately to tell. Certainly, I’m no longer a stammering child, but I’ve never ceased communicating through my paint brush.·I represent our grandmothers, our friends, a favorite aunt, and perhaps, ourselves, whomever we are or would like to be.  I have had the delight of seeing the expressions of recognition in my audiences, and have noticed women, in particular, return time and again to “sit with friends”. If they haven’t the means to buy a painting, that’s fine with me. They’ve found a place of comfort in these paintings filled with women, food, animals and an ever varied assortment of props, be they inserted because I’ve needed to fill up blank space on the canvas and so have chosen things that are around me at the time, or because I’ve gotten an epiphany that requires the placement of a hint or two about what might be going on.

My audience isn’t comprised of individuals who tout “high art” as the end all. I strive to reach those of you who might ordinarily be intimidated (or mystified) by the esoteric, people like you who enjoy paintings of people who may remind you of your past; rediscovering memories in a snapshot of life gone by, or leaving a story unfinished for the imagination’s later entertainment.

My work features women as subjects because these are the unsung heroes of our life experiences. I’ve witnessed a room filled with people who are strangers suddenly begin telling each other stories about relatives, nostalgic events, and memories that may be specific to one person or another, and universal to all. Marvelous, warm conversations can be generated in this way. This is how I communicate. This is why I paint.

The Process

I choose my subjects by pouring over family albums loaned to me by friends and colleagues, and from my own collection of photographs taken while traveling, and occasionally, from published photos that I have been granted persmission to use as reference. The album from my own Irish Catholic Brooklyn gang from Flatbush has provided at least a dozen canvasses over the years.

I’m not especially talented as a formal portrait painter. I find striking a resemblance from a torn, scratched snapshot is hard to acheive, but I’ll start out with hope, selecting a person with animation in her body language and facial expression, and I’ll position her on a blank canvas wherever she seems to want to go. The remainder of the blank challenge begins to fill up without a plan as I grow familiar with my subject…her taste, her interests, her gossip. I choose her wardrobe, hairdo, and the items that surround her, creating a kinetic environment as I add patterns, textures, and repeats that come together to mold an allegory that has hints of its moral, more than likely a little symbolism, and some jokeiness. Much of the time I play music from the era I’m portraying and if I had a nice flowered frock or a snood, I’d put those on to be surrounded by authenticity.

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