Describe your approach to painting.
My approach is improvisational with loose parameters. Working in this manner, the work changes directions frequently, but I like to think it keeps the approach to abstract portraits fresh. For these recent works, I imagine my painting as sculpture and tease out a mass from the two-dimensions.
Physically this manifests by having several canvases on the ground and applying liquid paint that has been thinned with a variety of mediums. I then draw shapes and masses by lifting and manipulating the canvases. Depending on the viscosity of the paint, the flow of individual colors varies. As paint nears an edge, I use the painting edge as a tool to make marks on another canvas. This has been present in the work for some time but is now claiming equal billing to the portrait concentration.
Degree of Tilt from Van Doren Waxter on Vimeo.
How did you develop this unusual approach to abstraction?
With improvisation, everything from emotional states to studio gaffs infiltrate into the surface of the painting. It's important for me to be mindful to shifts, and distinguish between mere distractions. For me, this allows the unconscious leap that I hope happens in every painting to evolve fluidly, whether or not it stems from a cerebral or physical point.
In using one painting as tool for another, it began as a mundane effort to keep dripping paint off the floor, but the ramifications of a painting as the residual from another work, and implementing the canvas as a tool was interesting to ponder. I'm excited for where this will lead me.
Describe your portrait series.
Over the past few years, I've been working on a portrait series of portrait painting. Renaissance and Mannerist portrait paintings which conveyed something to me, pathos, frivolity, excitement, dread, mass, light, etc., were the first paintings that I used as my muse. I made notes regarding contrast, palette, and background information that I felt helped to convey those attributes formally, referring to the notes at different points in the making of the painting to keep the improvisational practice loosely lassoed. This later expanded to making notes on some favorite paintings by heroes from a variety of time periods. The works in this show reference paintings by Piet Mondrian, Lisa Yuskavage, Marilyn Minter, and [Diego] Velasquez.
Select one painting that will be in MOCA's exhibition and describe it in greater detail.
Portrait (PM Sweep) refers to a painting by Mondrian. Building up of a painting is a series of small and large gestures, and this painting is exemplary of that process. It shows a mixture of alchemical pours of different paints of varied oil consistencies, painted searches of color and passages made by dragging and dripping the side of a wet canvas to create sweeping gestures across the painting. What I particularly like about this painting is its clarity of color, something that Mondrian is obviously the master of.
Describe your color palette.
Like most things in my paintings, the palette is mostly improvisational. I do refer to notes from paintings I admire for initial choices in palette.
Describe your titles. What meaning do they convey?
They refer to the paintings that I am using as a muse, either with a direct reference, as in Profile (Minter Meltdown), or to the strongest emotional attribute that the painting conveyed to me, as in Portrait (Candy), which refers to a Velasquez painting.