Diaries are containers for our impressions and memories. They are tactile and physical, we can touch and hold them. When I’m painting or drawing, this tactile, feeling sense is as important to me as the sight sense.
I’ve been writing in a diary since 1990 when I lived in Chicago. One reason for this is that it helps me to organize my thoughts and make desicions. Words and sketches give shape to my inner experience of external things. Another reason is that I am nostalgiac and enjoy pausing from time to time to look back. This is often a bittersweet experience but it can be instructive if we use that moment to reflect actively and not yield to wistful sentimentality. The diaries and sketchbooks we keep are a record of a feeling, sensation, emotion or thought we had at the time.
Sketches I make of people and things that catch my attention while out in the world can serve as the starting point for new paintings. Later, in the studio, I almost always depend on sketches and studies to work out ideas for a painting. For me, they are essential to my method and body of work. For this reason I would like to show you some of them here from time to time. In addition to sketches, words can provide some context and a complement to what I’m working on visually, what’s inspiring me, or what I’m thinking or feeling as it relates to the art. Sketches don’t have the completeness of an idea that a painting has, but they are often more intimate than paintings. Often, while painting, I try to paint the way I sketch, to get that freshness and immediacy that sketches often have . That’s not so easy.
I believe that employing the touch sense through play and making things is an essential ingredient for a sweeter, more satisfying life. Children know this. It comes naturally to them, at least for awhile. For me it’s always been the painting. It makes me feel fully alive and connected. But there are many other ways to achieve this, such as gardening, cooking, playing an instrument, knitting, planting a tree, making a sandcastle, and of course keeping a diary or writing a paper letter. In an increasingly virtual world, maybe we need to have these activities more than ever to connect with something real and material.