what’s the inspiration for painting?

I’ve been back in New York for a month now and have seen more art in the past month than in the last two years. A lot of times another artists ideas find their way in to my paintings. I try on different things to see if they fit and if they could help me find my way toward a satisfactory conclusion.

One of my first experiences in the art world was back in 1995 when I was told by an up and coming gallery that my work was derivative.  It took me a while to digest what they meant and how I would take it.  It also made me sensitive to influence. I have come to realize it is very rare for an artwork to stand alone outside of the timeline of art history. We are still applying paint to canvas which is pretty archaic by now.

I am inspired by other artists choices.  Sometimes I lean in the same direction and other times I lean the other way.

In the case of my latest painting, Carnival, there were a few things which stimulated me and some that crept in to the work.

In cleaning up the studio I found a poster from a 2007 show at Elizabeth Harris gallery of the Danish painter Maja Lisa Engelhardt. I remember having it on the wall of my studio for a while and using ideas from her work. I have long since incorporated what I enjoyed about her process in to mine but seeing the poster reminded me.

Maja Lisa Second Day7

Second Day 7, Maja Lisa Engelhardt

The next point of inspiration was from a more recent exhibition at Jane Lombard of Sarah Dwyer’s paintings. The large blue area at the top was directly inspired by Sarahs paintings. Sarah was leaving three or four solid color areas in each work which acted in harmony with the forms in the center and were divided by lines drawn from those forms.

Sarah Dwyer

Lask Edge, 2015, oil on Linen, Sarah Dwyer

There is a lot of unconscious and deeply embedded inspiration which finds it’s way in to these works but as is often the case the environment plays a part. No less so for Carnival as Washington Heights left it’s mark. It is true New York City is looking cleaner and sharper everyday but there are still pockets of urban potency and I happen to live in one of them.


46 x 80 inches, acrylic on vinyl

Carnival, 46 x 80 inches, acrylic on vinyl

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