Back in the 1970’s after graduating from college, I did a series of “puzzle paintings”. My idea at the time was to explore the different media that can be used to create painted images. So I made three at the time, and was preparing to create a fourth, when my direction in life and art changed. So I packed up the little blocks that I had had cut, and moved out west.
I finally pulled them out of storage some 35 years later. I had already determined that, psychologically, this piecemeal approach to image creation seemed most successful when applied to human portraiture, So when my friend, Anna, became seriously and unexpectedly ill, my choice became clear. I was able to locate a photograph of her that I liked (secured permission from its owner to use it) and set to work. Oil, encaustic, collage and egg tempera on small individual panels. Each panel measures 9 x 12.7 cm or 3 1/2 x 5 inches. The assembled piece measures 44.5 x 63.5 cm or 17 1/2 x 25 inches. May 2011.
Ever since my early experiments in painting, I have gravitated to painting on panels. Canvas is OK, but I just love the tactile quality of chalk gesso on panel. So I’ve always fully gessoed my panels on both sides – which is in fact how the flemish primitive painters did it too. And indeed it’s always seemed a shame to me to ignore that reverse side. (Sometimes in museums, you’ll see the back side of a painting done with a trompe l’oeil effect to depict a textured surface like, wood or marble.)
When I discovered (in 2009) how well a turtle shell trompe l’oeil effect had worked on a wide frame for a detailed cityscape I had painted, I decided to bring the abstract effect directly into the painting. So I commissioned a local carpenter to build me a wooden panel with a rotating inner core. I gessoed both sides and set to work. This is the result. It’s not really a painting to hang from a wall, since the back sides also participates. But who ever said art should be functional?