Art In the Time of COVID: Reinventing Myself
I haven’t picked up a brush in four months. Our son and his wife have their hands full with two jobs, a second grader, online school and a newborn so we decided that we would much rather be with our family and help where we can. We packed up and moved to the Washington DC area. We’ll now split our time between Boulder and DC. I decided not to set up a studio East here in DC.
Because of COVID-19, I have had my solo show in Kuwait postponed and my solo at the University of Colorado delayed. The missed opportunities, cancellations and delays keep mounting up.
It’s time to reinvent myself. I’m going digital on my iPad.
I can’t experiment with paint drips but I can still experiment with layers of color. I miss throwing paint and making large sweeping strokes with my large brushes but I also recognize that much of my painting is done with small brushes as I place tiny micro dots, lines and other marks across the surface of each canvas.
I love the scale of my seven-foot canvases but now I can project them billboard-sized. I love the way my paintings hang together on a gallery wall but now I can animate them and create a never ending, always changing virtual exhibition on social media and other online platforms. I love experimenting and learning new ways to handle paint but now I am learning and experimenting with iMovie, Photoshop and GarageBand.
But most of all I believe that reinventing myself is a way to take my art to a new level and to more effectively get my message out to those that matter most - victims, witnesses and survivors.
Several years ago I began to seriously draw on my iPad. I avoided the digital tools that duplicate the look of watercolor, pastel or oil paint. I wanted it to be something different - something maybe more native to the medium. So I started with simple lines. I really like to draw lines. I create lines from life. Can I capture essence with a line such that the line no longer looks like a person but has that person’s qualities? Of course I duplicated them on my faces on canvas.
Then along came David Hockney. Hockney is a favorite of mine. I like the way he thinks. He is always looking for new ways to present his ideas. He is always pushing boundaries in a relatable way. I started to follow what he was doing with his iPhone and iPad paintings. I started to use the same drawing program he used. Then in 2012, I went to the David Hockney: A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. It was an expansive eye-opening visual celebration that showed me the potential for creating large-scale art on my iPad.
Now, throughout the pandemic, Hockney has been working on his iPad and preparing for another major exhibition at London’s Royal Academy in 2021. The exhibit will showcase works that reflect the changing seasons. Some of the pieces are already part of an ongoing exhibition in Paris.
I am looking beyond lines and seeing what else I can conjure up with the medium. For Hockney it is landscape - for me it is faces. I start with very high-resolution images of my own existing paintings which I take into Photoshop on my iPad. I am repurposing my own paintings with a range of lines, marks and other graphic elements. I then have then printed on metallic paper which is fused to a large Dibond aluminum sandwich panel. They are a hybrid and each one is different. They are original and significantly reworked and enhanced versions of my own paintings.
I am also incorporating my images into video presentations ranging from a simple projection or TV display with multiple images, to a full-blown movie short.
It is encouraging to see the interest in my new work. I am in the early stages working with three different organizations on significant virtual projects.
I realize that I will have a brush in my hand back in Boulder but for now I am loving this digital encounter and my work will never be the same.