Extemporal

Artist Statement

This group of work came about almost accidentally. For years as a public school art teacher I did annual painting demonstrations for my students that emphasized working spontaneously from arbitrary subject matter. Students would select a picture or two from a box of images and I would make a largely completed painting from the chosen subject matter using cheap paint in the course of one period. I never took these works seriously, but when I left teaching others who saw the collection of demonstration paintings reacted so positively that it caused me to reconsider them.

The process for the works here is similar. The title comes from the Latin extemporalis, meaning on the spur of the moment, or less literally, unrehearsed. When I go to my studio, before working on more extended paintings, I “warm up” by doing one or more complete improvised works. I keep a collection of images that I find interesting for a variety of reasons, and from these I select one or two intuitively in a very limited time, usually a minute or less. Sometimes I use single images, other times two, responding to associations the pairings create. Then I begin painting without pre-drawing or conscious thought. Colors are selected spontaneously. As I paint I respond to the work in progress making changes as needed, allowing the painting to develop organically. Most paintings are completed in around an hour, none more than two.

Several subcategories have emerged or are emerging, one being the Chrome Works based on vintage chrome car decorations. These are objects of beauty to which I have applied the same spontaneous approach as the parent Extemporal Suite. Isolated and largely centered on a page they seem like fetishized icons of a different era. Like much of my work, I see the Chrome Works having the greatest impact grouped collectively together.