Journal

The Paint Is Ecstatic

This autumn I have been working on a triptych that fills one wall of my studio. Since the inception of the three paintings, I had thought of them as a complete piece and had given the work the title "Cathedral." This initial title came from various sources. The three panels made me think of an altarpiece. I was also drawn to the idea that the shapes of cathedrals were derived from equivalents in nature, which is a theme I am preoccupied with in much of my work. And Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral" inspired me, too, especially as I tried to envision the titular structure in this work and its many symbolic interpretations.

Ecstasies  in progress, 2016

Ecstasies in progress, 2016

As the piece evolved, it felt somewhat unruly and I struggled to bring it into a cohesive form. Unusual to my painting practice whereby I typically let the paint provide most of a work's direction, I sketched some basic drawings to help me. One of these sketches gave me the idea to give each canvas a separate form instead of one flowing field across the three paintings.

Study for a Resolution , 2016

Study for a Resolution, 2016

The result changed the general concept of the work and along with it its title, which is common in  my practice—many paintings have a few different titles before the final one settles in (and sometimes I have returned to change the names of my paintings years later). The new title—Ecstasies—was born during a particularly challenging—and eventually ecstatic—day in the studio and also bears a religious connotation. 

Ecstasies  in progress, 2016

Ecstasies in progress, 2016

It is interesting to me that the original title, though discarded, was generally in keeping with the subject of the final piece. It is as though the theme was always there, even before the first layer of paint.