A lot of people have been asking about my use of newspaper in my work. How do I select the articles I use, if I do indeed select them? Do the articles serve a purpose in my work, or do they merely create an interesting background? I welcome any questions, and encourage people to comment or e-mail me should they desire to know more about my work.
The news is a fascinating thing in today's society. The stream and volume of information that every individual has access to is astonishing. We are bombarded daily by any form of news, whether local, national, international, celebrity, or informative. Our Facebook walls are filled with lists of "life hacks", and "ways to lose weight", and "ways to blow his (or her, but let's face it... we have not yet won the battle for female equality) mind in bed". Our grocery store checkout lanes tell us about the latest scandal in the lives of the rich and powerful; a life we may never know. Our televisions are cluttered with bold and personality-filled talking heads that spew information 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a rate that leaves an individual little time to make an informed opinion, or worse, bully one into making an opinion that they deem worthy: who you vote for, how you view War, and what social change should or should not happen... are they really your decision? Or are they the decision of the media outlet which digests your information?
Newspapers are all the more interesting. They are often deemed "out-of-date" in this digital age. I, for one, love them. I love that I can sit in quiet - a lost luxury in today's society - and slowly digest an article, all the while measuring it by my own knowledge and experience, coming to an informed and carefully thought out conclusion without the drama of two people shouting opinions, or flashy graphics that distract me from the story at hand.
In addition, newspapers are each a work of art. The layout is carefully constructed, and designed to draw your eye in certain directions, just like a work of fine art would. Each is different: the New York Times (my favorite), the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Le Monde, Der Speigel... the list is endless, and offers endless possibility
When starting a piece, I begin by conceptualizing what I want to paint on the foreground. I'll do a few sketches to get the layout the way I want it, and then I'll go to the pile of newspapers I have in my studio, and start rifling through them. (This is the most time consuming part of my process. I have over two years of newspapers stacked in my studio, and though I sometimes sort them by topic (war, politics, racial issues, life, "white noise", etc) in my spare time, most are sorted on the spot.) I'll pick out articles and pictures (I try to make sure all of them are black and white) that are relevant to the subject I'm going to paint, whether directly, or as a playful juxtaposition. My most recent painting, Nagasaki, has clips of the 70th Anniversary coverage, in addition to articles on the bombing of ISIS this year, and the bombing ISIS has done throughout Iraq. I also included some articles on the economic recovery in Afghanistan. I consider this relevant. How does a nation rebuild, and find it's feet after War? There is so much history, and so much connection in each piece, and it is these connections that form the background and base of each of my paintings.
I do not stand alone as an artist. No successful artist does. We are instead connected to a big world of artists that come before us, and history and culture that surrounds us. Once we find our place within, the conversation becomes all the more interesting.