Poets and Artists Issue #53: “Love”
Curated by Marina Press
1. What are these paintings of? Tell me a little bit about each one?
“Abbandonata” is about loss and mourning. It actually depicts a painting of a dead bird I found on one of my walks near my home. It was such a beautiful sparrow with these ruby red feathers and I have painted it several times over the past couple of years. Of course it’s a small nod to Dutch still life paintings of game birds and fowls. The girl has a weeping lover’s eye brooch. She is abandoned not just the little bird but by the departed lover as well.
“Suitor with Letter and Carnation” is a simple declaration of love and admiration.
“Young Woman with Cupid” is a rather funny painting. It’s a lady catching an errant mischievous cupid. Perhaps she doesn’t want to fall in love and has had quite enough of Cupid’s meddling. Or… maybe she desperately wants love and finally caught a cupid to do her bidding.
2. Although these are portraits there are sorts of hidden stories in them due to the symbolism. Tell me what that symbolism is.
The symbolism is not very hidden and quite a few are traditional symbols such as the carnation of “affection” and the lover’s eyes are miniatures painted as love mementos popular in the late 18th Century. I adore the idea of the lover’s eye… it is the unseen lover, the object of the portrait sitter’s affection. I am also quite fond of ephemeral symbols such as birds, nest and flowers because of how they are a continuation of the “vanitas” genre in painting.
3. These paintings evoke love. But, do they evoke heartbreak? How so?
I think the symbols of love are obvious – the offerings of blossoms and love tokens. But also the heartbreak is quite literal in the dead bird and mourning veil and in other paintings of mine in visible wounds. In “Young Woman with Cupid” possible heartbreak or disappointment can also be read.
4. Are they autobiographical at all?
I hope not… Seriously I try not to be precious about my work and some parts of my life probably creep into the paintings. Luckily I have a disposition that tends to be playful so a lot of that absurdity probably becomes a part of the works.
5. What inspires the clothing that your subjects are wearing? Did you dream them up as well?
The clothing is just something that evolved through the years. They’re from all time periods because I’m a lover of art history and I appropriate whatever amuses me.
6. Your paintings seem to transport us back in time with their technique. Please tell me your secret.
I don’t have a secret beyond that which can be found in classical painting techniques. The only thing that might be unique in my painting method is I never dilute paint so there is a lushness to the paint itself. It’s a happy consequence of creating a solvent-free studio environment. In other words… I never use mineral spirits.
7. Are there any works of literature that inspire you as well?
I’m a book lover. Shakespeare and Madame Bovary have inspired some works. At the moment I am reading M.F.K. Fisher’s collected works “The Art of Eating” so there might be a lot of food still life in the future.