Many of your paintings could be photographs, why does painting these scenes make them better?
Firstly, I'm not technically proficient enough to realize these works as photographs, but in truth I actually prefer them as paintings. Painting allows for a certain amount of flexibility and I think it more easily opens up the possibilities for what can be done. I also enjoy the challenge that painting presents - to be able to depict what I'm trying to create in a convincing fashion. It's not automatic either and it takes time to accomplish that goal but I enjoy the process.
What do the smoke, balls, glowing light, and other surrealistic elements applied to everyday scenes represent?
They don't really have a ton of specific meaning to me in that one thing means this and another thing means something different, these elements are more there to give the paintings a surreal or psychological edge. Overall I'd say there's no one correct way to read each painting, the onus is on the viewer to fill in the gaps of meaning for themselves. And that's really what I'm most interested in for these paintings. Different people have different interpretations depending on how they see the work and what experiences they bring to it.
Do you personally know most of the people in your paintings, especially the ones with close up and detailed views of the faces?
For the most part yes. I prefer to have actual people pose for me (who I will photograph and use as reference for a given painting) and those people tend to be friends or people I know. There are some instances where I've had to use images from various online sources but ideally I try to find friends to pose for me.
I’m curious to know if you were bored or dissatisfied as a child growing up in the Midwest and the things you saw made you fantasize about a more interesting world? Such as, what if there were reflective metallic balls over this field?
No, I wouldn't say I was bored with my surroundings growing up in the Midwest. Things were pretty normal, for whatever that's worth. My interest in these kinds of typical middle American settings has only really come up more recently, say in the last five years or so, and I think it mostly is just a result of working with what I see around me. There are interesting things to see here in flyover country, you just have to be willing to look.
How old were you when you began to paint and what were your ideas or themes like then?
I've been doing art related things every since I was little, though that was mostly doodling and drawing. I got into painting somewhat late (I guess) when I was in my junior year at college. When I was first starting out with my own ideas I was more interested in symbolism, everything had a specific meaning. But now things are more generic, in the sense that I don't ascribe those attributes to what I paint, things are more open ended now.
I read your CV, can you elaborate on when you say …creating tension between what is familiar and what is distinctly surreal. I’m wondering because for me personally I get a dreamlike or calming feeling from your work and I was hoping you could tell me a bit more about the aspect of tension.
I'd say there's some tension in the work but not all in equal measure. Mostly what I'm getting at with that is that there's a strange mix in my paintings, where most of the settings are familiar, maybe even uninspiring, everyday landscapes but within these seemingly mundane settings there's something strange going on, those elements that give the paintings a surreal or psychological edge. So there's a tension in having to reconcile with those two things that are existing in the same space. And like I said this isn't all in equal measure, there are some paintings that have more direct tension and even violent aspects - example, Highlands Ranch, Colorado - whereas others might be a little more quietly mysterious and not so jarring - as in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, etc.
What art do you have hanging on your walls?
Umm, well mostly my paintings at the moment. I would have more art from other artist friends of mine but I just don't have a whole lot of space to do that right now. I have a sculptural wall piece from an artist friend that's currently living inside a box in my studio, eventually I'm planning on displaying it. I do however have a small, growing collection of art books that I'm pretty proud of, if that counts.
What are you working on now?
More painting! Currently I'm working on a larger piece that is based off of some photos I took on a weekend trip to Fort Dodge, Iowa. I'm excited to see how it will turn out.
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