From the start of my process I have wanted to create images that were solely my own. Unique and representative of my view point of the world. I can remember taking all those photos in the streets of DF over 17 years. Each time returning to the scene I had shot to capture the aging process, experiment with light, and seek out new ways of seeing things. Over time the images have evolved and grown more distinct. I have learned to see new things and push myself to create a discipline about how I capture images. Then came the painting which transformed my relationship to the photos. I knew I had stumbled into something and the process of experimentation grabbed my attention. This is when Chromatic Explorer studio came to life.
Life changed a lot and so did my art. At this point I was working full time as an art teacher here in Mexico City DF for a group of fresas. Every day was torture so I ended up taking refuge in my art every night. I discovered the process of experiments and application was changing my mood, my physical self, and most importantly, my ability to cope with the world. I was still thinking of this more as a hobby and medicine than I was a career. Changes were on the horizon. I started to experiment with figurative pieces and blended abstractions. In these moments I experienced great exhilaration, but I could not figure out how I was going to blend.
Soon after this discovery I quit my teaching job to focus on developing the technique. It took me a good year and half to stabilize my medium and push the technique. I moved back to the USA because I wasn’t making enough to cover the expenses of a visa renewal and I had no idea what I was going to do next in Mexico City DF. My friend’s space he lent me to explore my art was coming to an end, there was no money left, and I already had a round trip ticket back to Denver for a concert as a gift for my birthday. It was lining up so I left. That summer I spent pushing the work by taking on portrait commissions. I discovered many things over the summer which really helped stabilize the surface and push the work. The commissions were not the most interesting things I was doing, but I tried to focus on the value of learning I was obtaining and not the worries of selling out. During the summer I obtained a teaching position in Ojai, CA so I bolted to the ocean. It proved to be an essential choice. At this position I was able to spend 4 or more hours daily in my studio despite the full time schedule. I remained ever disciplined supported by the fact there were only 10,000 people in this small mountain town. I was not distracted by anything other than my dog, the weather, natural beauty, and the desire to progress in the studio.
Fast forward a bit two years and some change. I had obtained teacher of the year for technical education two years in a row at the middle school level and high school. My studio practice grew because I wasn’t focused on commissions. I was seeking my voice. I used the 2.5 years as if I were in a studio at a major art school getting my MFA. I couldn’t afford to go to school, but that wasn’t going to keep me from pretending. I entrenched myself in the studio and it was paying off in the quality of the work and the scale of the work. Each increased side by side and people were seeking my work out. Exhibitions were at a steady pace and my voice was becoming more distinct. Most helpful were the times we did open studio events and I was put into the position of discussing my work. It was a fantastic time, although I felt many limitations since my work imagery was primarily from Mexico City experiences.
More change was in the air a year ago. My job turned into a nightmare. An accusation by a student sent the paranoid administration (with no experience) into a tail spin. Instead of offering the opportunity to present a case I was put through a process I can only describe as McCarthyism. I resigned from my position to focus on art. Primarily I felt that my identity had shifted over the years to be an artist working as a teacher to support myself. I did not have teaching as my center point, so taking the insult and injury was not necessary. I could walk away without feeling like my identity was destroyed. I was a man of many skills. It strengthened my position as I completed a solo exhibition and plotted my return to Mexico City after Christmas.
Another fast forward. Here we are 9 months into the adventure. I have been taking fotos of models over the past 5 months, but not really satisfied completely with where the work was going. Treating it like any other piece was not working. The nudes felt satisfying in some ways, but empty in others. I was going to have to take some risks, but something was holding me back. I was allowing myself to compose my sketches I based the work on in Photoshop. Some old ideas I had about the purity of the image and constructing them only in the camera. Outdated I guess, but also I am super stubborn. But I broke through a bit over the summer with this image. I new I was finally doing what I had set out to do. I wanted my image, not the street photography to be the basis of the paintings. I wanted to create the narrative instead of implying the narrative over the image. I began to blend the street photos in with the models and use those for the paintings. Which brings us to
It was thrilling in my studio last night to start this experience off. I decided to use the image of my first model for comparison to where I was 4 years ago when I started to explore figurative work. It was fun to experiment with the different street photos of color and texture to decide which suited the photo. It took several hours to find a combination that really worked. I love how the texture overlays created a sort of masked creature.
This piece is not near being completed, but I needed to pull back this morning and reflect on the experience. I am working to maintain the transparency in key zones and slowly building the textures up. I can see much easier on the computer the corrections I will be making in the studio this evening. Some highlights need to be tampered down while other areas need some form to them. Maintaining the qualities of the skin are essential for me. I am unsure how I will resolve the background other than wanting the circular halo in the background to mirror the skin tones. I also am enamored by the green sheen behind the figure as it pulls out the greens in the face. Also, a close friend did a spiritual reading and he said my aura
was green representing creative energy and change. I had always avoided greens in my work for
some reason so I am consciously working to give more consideration. I don’t know they that is, but in the end it’s about the exploration.
What’s next? Complete the piece and then get back to photographing the models. Some full nudes and some portraits. I will use the white sheets I have been collecting because I can easily project or overlay the street photos of color and texture to get the effect I desire. I am unsure if I will leave the exposed parts of the figures as photographic realism or overlay. That remains to be seen. None of it means I stop my discipline of taking photos in the streets and exploring that avenue. I am just thrilled to have this break through and to be moving forward. Once this temporary job ends in December I know my work will speed back up again. I just have to maintain the momentum. Just that. jaja. Nothing else.