Last summer, when I answered "because it's fun" to my friend's question of "why do you paint?" my friend shot back with rejection-full of deep follow-up questions that made me feel insecure and totally defensive. At the time, I thought no one should really be that critical of personal motivations no matter how simple they were. A year later, he asked me the same thing and instead of crossing my arms in my usual defensiveness- I sat down, floated on my board, painted, all the while thought of his question. I'm grateful for that friend for pushing me to dig deeper than fun. It feels pretty good to be able to somewhat express my thoughts and feelings about my art and why I do.
I paint waves– sometimes exotic and realistic ones, sometimes very simple and a little abstract. I paint waves, and always they are empty. To me, unridden waves have a certain poetic ambiguity that communicates solitude and loneliness in one perspective, and freedom and unapologetic happiness in another.
The empty wave I paint, once on someone's wall, is the caesura (poetic pause) that fills the viewer’s otherwise mundane poem that is the daily routine with enough drama to feel– something. Whichever state of mindsurf my artwork may evoke, I want it to be a life-chaRging distraction. Ultimately, I want the viewer to want to mentally shred the shit out of each empty wave like Savage fucking Garden– truly, madly, deeply…
I unfortunately approach painting the way I approach surfing bigger waves–with a lot of anxiety. Before any overheard sessions at the North Shore, I’ll find myself searching for motivational YouTube videos to watch the night before and end-up nervously snacking my way into a bag of chips or trailmix just a few minutes before jumping in the ocean. On the paddle out the anxiety drops and adrenaline kicks in. It often feels like an out-of-body experience until I catch that first big wave that brings me back to myself, eventually becoming more present and aware.
As with surfing, I sometimes overthink the painting process by digging for reasons the approach wouldn’t work and casting those doubts that make me reach for another bag of cheese-flavored, organic anxiety. It’s a form of procrastination, maybe– I'll let you know for sure tomorrow. Once I'm face to face with my blank surface and lay on my first few strokes, the anxiety begins to dissipate and I slowly become focused and confident. I am present–presently kicking ass.
One of my favorite aspects of the painting process is discovering new surfaces to paint on. Often the surfaces are the typical shop-bought canvas and wood panels. But once in a while, I’ll come across a random material and the encounter feels more like meeting a soulmate; I’ll hold it up with two hands, say it’s an odd-shaped piece of scrap Koa, and immediately feel a connection that in minutes I am pregnant with ideas and their possible titles. Lucky for me, wood doesn't freak out and doesn't never call back.