Want to know my secret ingredient for making a work of art? It's complicated and I am constantly seeking the answer myself but today I had to pony up and answer a similar question to a gallery director. I think I gave a pretty good explanation, let me know what you think. I was asked -
"I just wanted to send a quick note to tell you how much I love your painting for Cats vs. Dogs. I loved it from the images you sent, but the surface texture and little carved surprises make it ten times better. Thank you for taking the time to create such a thoughtful piece for the exhibit. We will treasure having it on display here. (And I’ll send photos once we’re finished with the installation!)
If you have a moment, I’d love to get any stories behind the piece - anecdotes or what the composition means to you."
and I replied:
So glad to hear you liked the painting! So what's behind the scenes here......Hmmm.
Most of my art tells a story, some are very complex stories, some simple. The subject matter I paint is very personal to me but I like to present it in a way that most can relate to it and develop their own idea or story. Seek and Ye Shall Find is kind of a simple story, to me but may be a complex story to someone else. An example would be the empty bird cage, it could mean a lot of different things. A lost bird, a dead bird, looking for a new bird, a new friend, setting a bird free, freedom, etc. Actually for me the bird cage means very little - sorry to say - but it's something I put in just for the curiosity of it. Some people may call this simple minded trickery but I am doing it for the viewer. I want them to get lost in my painting and create a story, so I added this detail. Things in the painting that do mean a lot to me are: my daughters name which is Aspen, my sons name which is Seven. In most of my work you will find a number 7 (obscure or obvious), I've been including 7's for twenty one years now. People that know my work enjoy looking for the 7's and letting me know they found it. The dog pictured is my German Short Haired Pointer, her name is Lucy. She is a rescued dog from my local shelter. The Mallard Ducks in flight were my dad's favorite bird, he collected decoys and such and I remember being in awe of these as a child. Some of the earliest paintings I was exposed to were of these ducks pictured in their native homes. The fact that the boy and dog are sailing away reference going off on an adventure. They are looking for something - the dog pointing may mean they have found something - who knows? Personally, I am an adventurer by heart but all of my adventures happen on land. I have always wanted to build my own boat and learn to sail, I don't know why, but it's always been romantic to me. This is surprising because water is one of my biggest fears. Drowning, sharks and giant octopus - all freak me out, but still I long to be out there. I also like flying. As a child my dreams were filled with me flying or floating. As I got older I learned to control the dreams and I could get myself to fly in a certain direction and see things from this different perspective, flying high or skimming the surface of the water. These dreams really influenced me and ignited a fire in me to constantly explore. Here on land I am always finding myself looking up to the high places and wondering what it would be like to be there, who else has stood up there, what could you see from up there, how do you get up there? I am a mountain hiker/climber. I know this sounds like I am all over the place with ideas but that is the purpose of my art. It grounds me and lets me put all these ideas together to make an image for all to enjoy.
Those little carved surprises and surface details you see are things I do for "eye candy". I have always thought art should look good from a distance as well as close up and the closer I bring someone to my art the more I want to give them for their effort. The carvings are put in as I paint and many actually get painted over and lost. They may be thoughts I had, random doodles, things added to help tell the story, etc. I have had paintings hang for a month before anyone notices these details and they are always so excited to discover them. Once they do discover them, they will spend an hour looking for others. Sometimes I'll get calls months later because they have found something new and are excited to let me know. They become very personal with the work and I like this. It's like knowing all of the birth marks and bumps & bruises on your child. I think, in a way, these discoveries also help bring out the kid in all of us. It ignites something with us.
So, overall, the painting is about adventure with a boy and his faithful companion. What they are seeking and how close they are to their goal is up to the viewer. But overall, this is classic stuff, like Old Yeller. Makes you want to adopt your own dog and start your own adventure - right? Lucy is the third dog in my life. She hasn't even been with our family for a year yet but she has already settled in and become a part of us. I know she will be with me, and my daughter, on many, many adventures yet to come.
I hope this helps you and everyone else understand a little bit more about me and my art.
-End of response.
So what did you think? Did I let you in my head a little bit? A little larger version of this painting can be seen here Seek and Find . There's also added information regarding the show here too. I know you still can't see the carved surprises, sorry. It would kind of kill the meaning if you could as they are meant to be for you all who visit the painting in person. If you can't see this one in person wait for the next. I've got a lot of ideas, adventures and surprises left in me for many years of painting.