The Art of Gesture In Two Media
For me, the act of creating art is about being in the moment, connecting without judgement to the impulses I feel driven to express. As it turns out, I also have conflicting loyalties between technology and the physical act of making marks on paper. The work I present here in Essential Editions encompasses two bodies of work with a single theme, gesture.
In fine art a gesture is an expressive mark derived from an impulse and captured with media, such as ink on paper. My paintings are clearly "of the hand" which are done with acrylic paint and watercolor media on paper, using the subconscious to develop the image. I often meditate before beginning to paint, looking to banish thought from my mind. Then, as I start to paint I let go of judgement and try to respond. Sometimes my response is based in emotion, sometimes from something I see, but knowing the source only comes after the painting is complete. For instance, months after painting "Bent Figure" I finally recognized the source, a stenciled graffiti on a regular route. The gesture found in these paintings isn't controlled or practiced. I rely on many years of experience, letting my body do what is familiar, without letting my mind create expectations. Not an easy task, yet a very satisfying feeling when I can accomplish it.
But finding a way to accomplish a satisfying gesture on the computer has been a bit more challenging. Creating an expressive line in Photoshop with a stylus is the obvious choice, but an interesting result requires a lot of practice and manipulation, and is therefore no longer an impulse. Early in the exploration process I threw handfuls of salt onto a black cloth, made gestures with my finger and photographed it. This process evolved into making gestures in sand at the beach under strong sunlight. Then one rainy day I struck upon the idea of substituting a scanner for the sand. The image to the right here is the result of scanning a gesture. Then in PhotoShop I lift interesting shapes from the gestures, recombine them to form motifs, finally collaging the motifs into new compositions. Every mark you see in my digital work is sourced from one of these scans, so in essence I've made this work entirely from fingerprints. See a short demonstration here.
I enjoy what technology can bring to my creative process, and believe limitations are liberating because more attention is focused on what remains. The closer you look, the more you see... and you never know what you will find.