Painting is a performance. It’s like getting into character. As an actor, you’re not just acting, you are being. You call upon real emotions to create a character. For a painter, the process is much the same. My paint clothes are my costume, my studio is the performance space, and in the act of painting, I am a painter creating emotion through the very real use of colour.
If an onstage performance is intended for an audience, then painting is a much more personal act of self-validation. I cannot appreciate my own performance the way an audience can, but I am able to step back from one of my paintings and say to myself, “I love that.” Not all the works I create are intended to be viewed by anyone else but me, and many will never hang on anybody else’s walls but mine, if they ever leave the studio at all. Many exist only fleetingly before I paint over them. Over time, the layers of oil paint accumulate, allowing me to scratch away at them and reveal fragments of the past.
My most recent works occupy the in-between spaces. It’s a space I have often found myself in as an actor between jobs. It’s a space between who I project to be in public and who I am in private – a conscious space in which I make the decision to present as one way or the other. It’s a space between dark and light as we emerge from the COVID lockdown, during which my creativity completely shut down. And in the emerging layers of paint, there is a space between something I previously destroyed and the fragments I can’t get rid of – happy accidents caused by a brushstroke or scratch on the canvas revealing what lies underneath. This act of creating is similar to finding the right interpretation of a character through experimentation and improvisation in the rehearsal room. You never really know where you’re headed with a role until you get there. The act of painting is much the same.
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