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Artist Statement

In this new work, my intention is to take things back to basics and recapture the sense of pure joy that I felt as a four-year-old boy drawing in a coloring book with a box of crayons.

 

These paintings are reduced to their barest pictorial essentials: simple, descriptive lines serving as an armature for an eye-popping patina of vibrant colors and visual motifs culled from my travels.

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In my studio, I try have a lot of canvases of various sizes and formats ready to go.  The shape of a canvas will sometimes suggest an image.  They are generally primed with a very hot color, which permeates the piece and lays the foundation for an electroshock color scheme.

 

Drawing on the canvas with vine charcoal, my paintings are often begun without a pre-conceived plan.  I just draw and let the shapes take form.  One thing leads to another, and an image will emerge from the primordial ooze.  Recently, I completed a piece that began as a sweeping arc and ended up as a zaftig woman.

 

There is a lot of improvising, erasing, painting and re-painting as childhood memories, wondrous travel recollections and recent annoyances from the internet rise from my subconscious and make their way on to my canvas.

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My first influences were cartoonists.  As a young boy I was a fan of Charles Schultz and James Thurber for their visual simplicity and narrative sophistication.  The artists that were featured in MAD Magazine, the New Yorker, National Lampoon and ZAP COMIX instilled in me a respect for visual clarity and humor that ranges from subtle to outrageous.

 

As a painter, my most important influences are artists who come from a realist/picture making tradition.  It’s a long and varied list that ranges from the color saturated paintings of Wayne Thiebaud and the graphically powerful works of Hokusai to the playfully terrifying realities of Salvador Dali.

 

Many influential artists and art forms have been introduced to me during my travels.  Decorative and folk art from Asia, Latin America and Africa inform my work.  From the colorfully painted minibuses of Indonesia to the semi-precious stone inlays of the Taj Mahal, Sukhothai Bronzes, Oaxacan street art, Moroccan tilework and countless others are all part of the visual gumbo that I’m cooking up.

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Everyday life provides the subject matter and starting point for a lot of my work. For example, the painting, SUSHI (pictured below) comes from my experience of a particularly vivid sushi meal in Kyoto.  Back in the studio, I recalled the fish’s beautiful orange skin and how its eyeballs glared at me.  My meals point of view became the focus: he’s adorned in seaweed and rice and about to be eaten.  He’s clearly unhappy.  No wonder he’s developed a serious cigarette habit.

Sushi | JWP

Sushi

Acrylic on Canvas

13" x 21"

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