The Window Seat Series
Despite the fear of terrorism, the long lines at security and concerns about privacy, the crowded and now mall-like atmosphere of airports, the endless waiting, the delayed, cancelled, and overbooked flights, the cramped seats and closet-like lavatories, the airborne illnesses and lost baggage, the irritability of fellow travelers — despite all these things, I still passionately love to travel by airplane. I marvel at the miracle of human intelligence that enables us to do such an astonishing and unnatural thing as fly. And in my opinion, a flight not spent in a window seat is wasted. Why would anyone want to pull down the shade to better view a seatback video monitor? How could anyone possibly sleep while we are suspended together, incredibly, almost magically, thirty-two thousand feet above the ground?
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The motivation for these paintings is my fondness for air travel and my curiosity about both the science of human vision and the atmospheric forces that determine color and light in nature. The subjects of these paintings, while apparently clouds and airplane wings, are actually the abstract formal issues of composition and contrast. I use the airplane window as a framing device and consider both how the compositions work on their own as well as how the paintings in the series are composed in relation to each other. When I look out an airplane window, I am not so much inspired by pretty sunsets and fluffy clouds as I am thrilled by the contrasts that exist: light and dark, warm and cool, soft and hard, distance and proximity, clarity and obscurity, man-made and natural, speed and stillness, euphoria and terror. Across some edges, I nudge contrasts closer and closer together to see just how subtle I can make their differences while still maintaining the definition of the edge, while elsewhere in the painting I push the contrasts as far apart as I can for maximum visual impact. On the surface of the two-dimensional canvas, therefore, I can make an airplane wing feel miles away from a cloud, or I can make two greys merge almost imperceptibly on the flatness of the picture plane. With the Window Seat series I am stating my conviction that it is not impossible for a painting to be simultaneously abstract and representational.
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The Window Seat paintings are available as prints.
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