I WANTED TO UNDERSTAND HOW PAINTINGS ARE MADE, HOW COLOR BEHAVES. I NEEDED TO MAKE THINGS. PAINTING BECAME SERIOUS FOR ME WHEN I WAS 21 AND BEGAN PAINTING WITH OILS AND STUDYING ART HISTORY. WHEN I WAS 24 I WENT TO GRADUATE ART SCHOOL AT PARSONS IN NEW YORK AND I CONSIDER THIS THE BEGINNING OF MY CAREER, THE BEGINNING OF MY COMMITMENT TO PAINTING.
For twenty five years I mostly painted outside in the landscape. For the past 15 years I mostly paint in the studio working from photos, drawings and memories. I don’t paint things or places, I turn things and places into paintings. I am determined to make paintings which surprise me with their appearance and feeling. The painting’s surface, the mark making is very important, but I develop the surface intuitively, subconsciously. There’s a fascinating contradiction here: you are watching yourself do something, watching yourself apply color with a brush, yet you don’t consciously guide the painting.
The act of painting is like playing an instrument in that you are doing it, but you are led by feeling not ideas or intellect. Many of my recent paintings focus on architecture or views in San Francisco. The purpose of the painting isn’t to report the appearance of these places, rather to explore the complex sentiments I feel for these visual situations, for these moments of shape, color and light. The original idea is useful, even critical, but it is never enough; it is only a way to get started. The process is meditative, often healing, and it is very important. The finished work is most important. I am working from a position of great doubt. I go to the studio to find out if it is still possible to make a new painting. When I manage to finish a painting it is a fleeting moment of feeling this is what I should be doing with my life. While the viewer might think I am painting on the outside, I am in fact painting on the inside.
I paint in a large skylit warehouse which is a 15 minute drive from my house. The space allows me to work on both small paintings and large paintings that are huge, 2×3 meters. There are tradesman in my warehouse complex doing furniture repair, making glass shower doors, plumbers. We are just two miles from the FaceBook headquarters. It’s an odd location for a painter but I like the idea that I’m not supposed to be able to live in this part of Silicon Valley. I started off in a Palo Alto garage in 1990, like many entrepreneurs.