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A(n) (Ab)Normal Work Week

I am an artist.

But a lot of the time I'm doing things other than art production. Still, once in a while I get to focus all my attention on painting, and that's what I'm doing this week. Before school starts, as a precident for making art all year long, my friend Clint and I are meeting each day to create artwork.

I started this week by returning to a canvas I used during the school year to demonstrate the "block-in" concept to a group of students.

With each new project this summer, I'm trying to push myself beyond what is familiar and comfortable. When I finished a realistic, figurative still life ("Sanzaru"), I tried my hand at abstraction ("Yellow"). With a couple oil paintings under my belt, I returned to finish up some watercolor projects ("Showers" and "Untitled"). For some reason, I've been really drawn to collage. I've spent hours this summer culling images. So for this return to oil painting, I chose to add a collage element.

My painting is titled "Ay-O Jimmy! I Can Play E.T. Too!!" It's a nod to James Ensor's self portrait from 1899.

This painting has been redone plenty of times; mostly unsuccessfully. So I know that I run a risk, then, of slipping into amateurish parody, but my hope is to use the painting as a spring board and a self-imposed challenge. First, I hoped to emulate Ensor's impressionistic style. I have tried, but it's so hard for me to relinquish control. For twenty minutes I would paint in dabbing, unblended brushstrokes, only to follow it with a highly refined square inch of canvas painted over the course of an hour. So I have not been completely successful in that regard. I wanted to eliminate any illusion of depth with the masks, and I wanted to fuse collage and painting successfully. It remains to be seen how well this can be accomplished.

The image itself is full of rich allusions associated with masks and their ability to help us hide. I'm hoping that when the painting is complete it will be both visually striking and conceptually compelling.

Here are some progress pictures. Expect to see it in the gallery as soon as it is finished.

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