Inside and outside spaces have evolved radically different meanings in my practice. Over the last two years, I’ve painted with enthusiasm out in the streets, while in my cozy little apartment I can hardly bring myself to pick up a brush. I have simply developed strange feelings about those bits of portable wall called canvases…
Not that I’ve stopped making them entirely, or teaching painting. But the relative permanence of public art, its freedom of working big, knowledge of having a fixed audience, and the human interaction that is a constant and inevitable part of the creative process are all greatly motivating – maybe even a little addictive. Studio painting for me just doesn’t generate the same buzz. If you paint fast enough (I’m impulsively alla prima) you end up with a lot of them suckers in your back room, and for whatever reason (I can’t imagine why…) sales to not tend to match one’s speed of production very often! It can be a real buzzkill to feel you’re doing something exclusively for yourself, no matter how much you may love it, but it’s worse when you’re tripping over stuff at the same time.
Hence, Digiduudles! Around 2005, when I got a new computer with Photoshop I started messing around, drawing absent-mindedly with the mouse. There were a few things that I loved about the medium: I could produce bold colours, and work over them quickly without mixing or muddying them. The pictures instantly served as high-quality photos of themselves. One could work and save at random intervals to document the process, while simultaneously creating frames each usable as an image in its own right, either as stills or collectively, animations. This of course results in a LOT of work, which can be very helpful in sifting over the development of one’s visual ideas. And since they’re all virtual, these take up zero actual room!! So in addition to keeping my apartment reasonably livable, they’re even environmentally friendly.
Most of what I draw are pictures (i.e. stuff with a figurative/narrative dimension), as in the above works, Pharoah’s Dream and Aztec Morning (only $200 for a signed print, folks!), although today’s Duudles tend to be less complex and more graphic/abstract than their early counterparts. There’s a fairly specific combination of colour and line that I’m after now. I’ve also begun to introduce collage in an associative process whereby I nab random images from the net when words or images spring to mind while making.
I am still not terribly sophisticated with the way I put together images, considering what computers are capable of. I have knowledge of few bells and whistles, and view my digital practice simply as “drawing with light”. It’s inevitable, I suppose, to the extent that the medium is the message, that there is also a reflexive property which brings computers themselves into whatever other conversation my works may create, and that’s ok by me. Computers are a regular part of life and we use them in a variety of lowbrow ways which don’t hinge heavily on “computer-ness” for their effectiveness. In fact, I rather enjoy the somewhat crude effect pixellation has on mouse drawings. They “strive” in a way that my hand-rendered drawings don’t quite. There is an innocence in the translation from hand to screen, I think, deriving from the added awkwardness of process.
The way I share these images is mainly for free through social media, either Twitter or Facebook. I’ve even had a few contests lately where I’ve designed custom portraits to be used as profile pix. I’m not against the gallery system in theory – in fact, this year I aim to get more work out to the public through this route – but typically would like my work to be seen and enjoyed by the widest possible audience. (On principle, I also really hate paying just to enter a show.) Additionally, I tend not to create with a “series” mentality, even though my work has clear thematic (aesthetic) links, or with the intellectual apparatus that tends to accompany gallery exhibition, making my doodles strange candidates for some curatorial ends.
All in all, what I’m hungriest for is feedback on the work that I do. This is true of both public and studio art! There is nothing more gratifying than having someone take the time to acknowledge what you’re doing, that it has some interest, and to say a few words about it.