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My friend Jennifer sent me a photo her great grandmother Lois b.1900 in rural IN. Lois moved to Detroit in the 1920s. She was a pistol & true lady . She saw Houdini’s stunt when he jumped off the Belle Isle Bridge among so many other things in her lifetime. She was progressive and lived to be a month shy of 97. I painted this in a monochrome color palette because I wanted to capture the warmth and glow of a vintage photo. I love her confident demeanor sitting on the fender.
I paint with oil and acrylic in a loose technique that seeks accuracy. Finding the point where an image feels authentic and well defined by using the least amount of brushstrokes is a common thread in all of my work. Mid-century architecture, cars, vintage photos, classic TV shows and movies are my main influences. Themes of time and place are consistently explored. It is not a longing for the past, but rather embracing nostalgic imagery as familiar shared experiences that people can relate to within the present. Pop culture has become a large part of everyday life and it reflects our joys and sufferings. Classic TV and movies are stories told over and over and become recognizable ways to connect with people who are otherwise strangers. It occurred to me that they are modern mythology. 20th century pop culture represent themes worth being painted not unlike the historical or biblical themes from previous art periods that we see in museums. I felt silly thinking about this at first, but it feels accurate. For example, I painted scenes from The Brady Bunch. I painted them in a traditional style exactly the way I paint every other subject matter. It just happened to be the Brady living room. Mixing authentic colors and being mindful of edges and values is always my top concern in painting. Doing these technical things loosely but accurately is where the heart and the connection happens. This is when the shared familiar memories kick in and I feel like I’ve created something that brings people together.
This same philosophy applies to my work created from vintage photos. Most everyone can relate to an old photo and emotionally connect to our own families and experiences while viewing them. Photos from the 1940’s-70’s are the everyday, mundane and often beautiful versions of classic pop culture. Painting from old kodachrome photos was a passion of mine since being an art student at CCS. I began by referencing my own family photos and over the years began to work from abandoned photos elsewhere and also from friends.
The two painters I admire most are John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper. Its the brushwork and color from Sargent, and the composition and subject matter from Hopper that I study the most and get inspiration for my own voice as a painter.
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