Night Fictions

“She had been walking a long while. Her senses were wide, straining against the night and the snow-covered stillness. As she walked, the air cooled her waking thoughts and her mind wandered…”

These paintings are fictions. If written, many of their stories could begin this way. In them, the viewer reads the story of our protagonists. Their mental states are alluded to by facial expression, gesture, and mark. The characters are as unaware of each other as they are of audience; each is lost in a world of the senses, absorbed within their own thoughts and emotions. Their situations are remarkably parallel. Thematically, the series speaks about longing, the love of being lost, the excitement and apprehension of what might be found in the dark. Winter, wilderness, night are all metaphors for the unknown, the Sublime.

This series originated from my own nights of wandering in winter snow. Visually, the series adapts iconography from German Romanticism and Italian Renaissance portraiture, and conveys it with an artificial light situation common in contemporary theater and cinema. Beyond the umbrella of nocturne, there was no preconception to be illustrated, no didactic intent intended. The stories are built out of my painting process, a curiosity of juxtaposing images and then reading the outcome. This reflects my belief that art is richer when discovered rather than imposed. I've carried a tripod in the snow, photographed and sketched; yet, memory is my primary aid. I open my eyes wide at night and try to retain the experience. In the studio, these elements are pieced together. Each painting begins with a vague mood that is brought forth by color. As forms begin to emerge and take shape, I try to name and articulate the image. Some of the figures are then paired with a reference but many are completely invented. As my process can be murky and oblique, I’ve found it mirrors the subject matter quite literally, if not the medium itself.

As with writing and theater, I view painting as a participatory experience with the viewer. I rely on the human form as a vehicle of emotion that either establishes an immediate reflexive empathy with the viewer or piques voyeuristic curiosity. People are ultimately unknowable in their depth and complexity and I wish to recreate some small part of this mysterious interaction through painting. It’s a singular event for one mind at a time, a conversation between object and viewer. Painting may be inefficient as means of direct communication in the digital age, yet its power stems from this inefficiency and the widening contrast of offered by this particular physical experience. A painting is a place to stop, to slow down, to wander and get lost. It is also my hope that I can produce a painting that, like a good book, can read more than once.

See the Night Fictions series