This piece was finished at my previous painting space in Watertown, but was first given a view to the world at Open Studios at Joy Street in Somerville in May of 2013. What began as a moody portrait, and a further exploration of the theme of masks soon evolved into the figure of a boy which seemed to embody the spirt of Ben Shahn’s incredible New York street scenes from his lithographs.
This painting is a recent completed piece, continuing my interest in the human face and the mask. In this case, figures are emerging (or dissolving?) into a dream world, something that reminds me a bit of Odilion Redon’s portraits. These figures are becoming lost in the thoughts or dreams around them, to the point that plants are starting to sprout from around their bodies. Despite this, I felt that they are not isolated, but rather caught in the midst of a bustling city. There are contradictory forces at work here that I’m exploring. When is sleep not restful? Can we be stuck and in motion at the same time?
This is a much earlier state of the painting ‘Portrait of a Tree’, from sometime in May of 2013. At this point it was little more than a charcoal sketch on a stretched canvas with oil washes over it. People have told me in the past that I use oil much more like watercolor, which is intriguing to see in this context.
“Portrait of a Tree”, (Walden Painting) work in progress, 6 ft 1 in x 4 ft 10 in, oil on canvas.