Can you start by giving us a bit more insight into your artistic background and the kind of work you create?
My formal background in art began at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where I studied painting and art history. I then went on to complete my MFA in painting at University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.
Currently I would say may work is rooted in material and process-based painting. The history and working properties of artist's materials really began to interest me at University of Delaware where I also studied conservation and materials while pursuing my MFA in painting.
There’s great physicality to your paintings. I’m a huge fan of graphite as a medium, talk us through how you use graphite in your paintings and why you enjoy working with this.
I have always been drawn to physicality in painting. Graphite is a seemingly simple material that can be used in a very complex range of applications. I find that it is quite malleable. I am generally using it in the early stages of my paintings to flush out form, lay down grid structures and push a range of values. I enjoy the juxtaposition of hard edge line that can be achieved with graphite against the softer stained and painted forms in my work. A lot of the graphite ends up being removed through my reductive sanding process as the painting evolves. The graphite that remains is visually quite worn and worked into the surface and creates an array of nuanced mark, surface texture and value.
Other materials in your work such as pigmented ice, hand ground anthracite coal and dust seem very specific. How do these materials relate to your subject matter?
I try to use materials and develop processes that are specifically related to my subject matter, content and personal experience. My work addresses man's interaction with natural materials and how that leads to continual reshaping of our surrounding environments. The melting of ice becomes a metaphor for geological process and time. A point of origin from which man then sees the potential of this material and form and begins to alter it.
The use of anthracite coal is directly related to my hometown of Saint Clair, Pennsylvania. The town is surrounded by a landscape that has been mined for more than a century. Coal was part of everyday life for most people whether you encountered it while playing in the hills as a child or using it to heat your home in the winter. It is both a material and an industry which have a multitude of implications and most certainly reshaped the natural environment of much of Pennsylvania.
What advice would you give to new artists who are struggling to paint at a larger scale?
I find working large can be both a hinderance and very freeing. The most important step is starting. Just begin working and don't worry about the outcome. Let the painting develop over time. For someone who is new to working big I would suggest starting on paper. Large scale rolls of paper can be purchased at a fair price. This can take a bit of the monetary pressure out of the equation. Also, be aware of the size of your tools / brushes or whatever you are using to make marks in relation to the size of the composition. Perhaps most importantly ask yourself if it needs to large in the first place.
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