Monday, October 22, 2012


Dim kinship
 Oil on linen, 2012

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I’m working on two main bodies of work – smaller oil paintings on linen and three-dimensional constructions made from the remnants of the painting process and other debris. I move back and forth between the two kinds of work quite quickly. As for the paintings, I keep a lot going at one time, which is helpful for momentum. There are probably three or four separate series, each connected loosely in my mind by a theme, gesture, or size. The recent paintings and constructions begin with an idea or motif but almost immediately the process takes them in new directions.

Can you describe your working routine?

I spend a lot of time in the studio and my work is very much the result of this extended time fighting through materials and ideas. When I’m not at the studio I think about what I want to do at the studio, so when I get there I’m eager to start. Usually it’s fixing a problem that I’ve thought about since I last left the studio. The fixing process creates new problems and so on. Reading literature or history at the studio also informs my practice – an idea or turn of a phrase will spark something or make me stop. I’ve recently been rereading old favorites like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and work by Hannah Arendt, Kenneth Burke, and others. When things get underway though I’m impatient and work on numerous pieces at once. I originally started to work on the smaller constructions because I thought they would be more manageable. But these pieces quickly took on a life of their own. It’s easy to get carried away and lose track of time in the studio.

Dumbo Studio, NY

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The studio isn’t big but it has enough room for several workstations, so I can move from the easel to the wall to the floor and back again. It also lets me have a lot of work going on at once. I’ve set up rolling tables so I move easily between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. The debris tends to pile up and I spend a lot of time sifting. The studio has no windows, which makes it feel homey. But I do quite a bit of sanding and use some intense materials, which means I sometimes have to move the working process out into the street. More recently the neighborhood has been undergoing pretty drastic change. When I moved in, my studio was on an old cobblestoned street with empty warehouses and old factories. These buildings are now being turned into lofts. The construction probably has had an effect on my work, which has become increasingly three-dimensional. I’m always finding amazing byproducts of the construction process that make their way into my studio and occasionally into my pieces. Whether I’m in the studio or out in the neighborhood, I try to keep my eyes open.
“Holiday labor”
Wood, cardboard, glue,
staples, gouache, acrylic, 2012
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
No matter how much planning goes into my work, the painting process takes over. Still, I spend a lot of time reading and looking at art and ideas emerge from that process. I get very excited by seeing what other people are making. I also sketch and take photos of things that catch my eye and jot down color combinations. All these things tend to get thrown into the mix and form the backdrop or concept for a painting or series of paintings. The starting point differs drastically depending on the work in question. Sometimes I’ll start with a gesture, color, or shape – other times I’ll put down a quite literal image from a photograph or still life in my studio. Occasionally I’ll see a painting in a book that I like and want in my studio so I’ll start making it. Either way, things quickly go haywire. Matisse, the cat who lives in the building, enjoys knocking paintings over and walking on their surfaces. He’s a good reminder to have a sense of humor and make the most of accidents. I try to stay open to surprises. A color from one painting will make its way to another, a figure will disappear, or a shape will develop. Scraping and sanding sometimes brings something to light. With the constructions, it’s equally chaotic as I puzzle the pieces and move from the parts to the whole and back again. All in all, it makes for hours of solving and creating problems.


“I should have been more strange”
 Wood, glue, staples, cardboard,
 acrylic, oil, 2012


What are you having the most trouble resolving?

Where to begin! On the one hand, a big challenge is avoiding the temptation to resolve things too easily. I’m always fighting the urge to address a problem piece with a graphic solution. With the constructions, it’s easy to resort to anthropomorphism or other quick fixes. On the other hand, it’s tempting to work a piece to death, so letting go is key. Having a lot of work going at once helps with that challenge. It also helps me avoid treating the work too preciously. Found objects are almost always better when I find them than after I get done with them, and I’d like to know why. I hope to learn to walk the line between precision and messiness better. And, of course, I hope to get better about trusting my judgment.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

Oil paints are at the center of my practice but I experiment quite broadly. The material itself tends to set the parameters, so I like to think there are infinite possibilities, although I stumble toward them through the material at hand. Recently, I’ve been using everything from oil on linen to gouache, Gorilla glue, hot-glue, wood, Xeroxes, acrylic transfer, found objects, trash from my studio floor, and just about everything in between.

In the studio 
What does the future hold for this work?

I just got back from an amazing residency at Ox-Bow, where I began to work bigger for the first time. I’ve always worked quite small for a host of reasons – ethical, practical, and otherwise. Since returning I’ve continued to push the scale of my work. I’m very lucky to be in a building with other artists whose work I really respect. They work very large and quickly. Seeing their paintings in the hallways has made me want to take more risks. The constructions themselves have an internal scale, but they’ve been growing in size, and I see them continuing to grow alongside the paintings. Occasionally I have thoughts of doing something wild like casting them huge. But in the meantime, I hope to keep plugging away and pushing the boundaries of what is comfortable for me.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate. I really enjoy the blog and have learned a lot from reading it. For anyone interested in seeing more work, it’s online at Thank you again, Valerie!

“Tied to the tail”
 Oil, acrylic, cardboard, paper, staples, glue,
wood, foam, plastic foam dispenser


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Knight in armor with teeth, 2012,
oil stick on paper, 61” x 47.5”

What are you working on in your studio right now?
I’m developing new large-scale oils on paper and canvas. These past few months, I’ve been seeing boxers, guardians, cats with guns and most recently, lederhosen.

Can you describe your working routine?
I aim to work every day because it’s a muscle. It’s work. Inspiration has little to do with it.
It takes tremendous effort to start, but once I get myself into fish pose and turn on my news programs, I can get cracking.
On good days, I can’t imagine doing anything else. More often, the doing is tortuous and fills me with doubt. I feel like I’m always on the verge of giving up. But I can’t.
Head (Boxer), 2012, oil stick on paper, 60” x 44”

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is my home, my home is my studio. I do everything here. Work, eat, sleep, have Thanksgiving, get married. This is my island.

I tried to have an outside studio space twice but I couldn’t get there.

So my work is intimate, very personal. The conundrum is how to make the individual bigger, to the point that it is exhibited and no longer mine.

Studio view toward windows
Thanksgiving 2011
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
My plan never pans out. Ever. What ends up happening is a call and response between what I’m doing and seeing, between a campaign of brush strokes or finger rubs and an inkling of a form. Then an image finally emerges. I want an image. 
What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I struggle with comparison: I am not that artist; this color is not that color; this is not abstract; that isn’t figurative; this is not as meaningful as that. I struggle with what is.


Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I’d like to say that I experiment, but I really don’t.

I like direct, fast, saturated media. That’s why I love oil sticks. I’ve recently started to incorporate oil paints so that I can brush in large surfaces. The drying time is a killer though.
I also love graphite, and brush and ink. But then it’s over before you know it

What does the future hold for this work?
Let’s hope a lot. I’m preparing for a solo show at Slag Contemporary in 2013. I want it to be as good as David Bowie being Ziggy, but who’s comparing. 


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I understand why Lee Bontecou dropped out of the scene.
Still life with lettuce flower, 2012,
 oil and oil stick on paper, 62” x 48”



Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Untitled, 2010, Paint, paper, nails,
pins, paper clips, staples on canvas.
What are you working on in your studio right now?

I am working on a series of large-scale wall pieces; the artworks are made from painted and constructed paper. For me these works are paintings but at the same time they are also sculptural in the exploration of the two-dimensional surface, through twisting, weaving and layering the surface of the work becomes three dimensional, the works could also be labeled reliefs. Alongside the wall-based works, I am also working on a series of sculptures that ‘pop up’ through the layering and association of certain papers and surfaces. The series of works are called ‘Outtakes’ referencing deleted scenes of a film that have been discarded in a final edit. These works echo this process, as they partly use the same materials as the wall based works. The assemblages represent little moments of the studio and come together very spontaneously; I make these works for myself, my desk has become a 3D sketchbook.

Studio 2012

Can you describe your working routine?

My studio is in a industrial area of Hackney in London, its not to far from where I live, I usually ride my bike to the studio and take a route that rides along a canal path and cuts through a park, the twenty minute journey clears my head and prepares me for a day in the studio. At the start of the day I like to reassess previous work, I love to throw stuff away in the studio, making decisions of what is useful or interesting, anything can happen in the studio, I can end up starting something new or rearrange something from a previous day. The working day is monitored through the flicking between radio shows that I like to listen to.

I always work on a number of artworks simultaneously; I like to switch between a sculpture and a painting or wall-based work. Often a new piece will just evolve from experimentation. I like to be spontaneous in the studio; sometime s a new collage might just come about in a quick and instant way, like having a little creative break from the bigger works.


Work in process
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio space is small, and it is constantly being re arranged to accommodate projects that I am working on. The space quickly becomes chaotic, and demands sorting regularly, I like to re use and configure waste paper and stuff that falls to the floor as I am working. I often make a rediscovery in the studio and upturn something interesting that can be used .The floor is covered in cut out pieces of paper, negative shapes that have been discarded when I have cut out paint marks. I like to leave this surface as I often pick up a interesting shape, and re use the piece of paper by colouring with spray-paint, these offcuts are often arranged back into the surface of the artwork.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

The works always start with an initial process of mark making on A1sheets of paper, I like to use spray paints, inks, graphite powder and acrylics. I start making random marks and brush strokes which are then cut out in a variety of ways, This activity provides information later on when I start to bring together the cut out pieces, on the canvas. I anchor the individual pieces to the canvas with nails, and pins, alongside fastenings such as staple gun and lots of paper clips. I like the immediacy of this process; it also allows me to quickly re position and change elements around.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?

The paper works tend to go quickly wrong! The works lose their rhythm, there is always a tricky question of when a work is finished, the last few works have ended up being overworked and resulted in deconstruction, a difficult task of stripping the canvass and starting again. Recently, I have learnt that short bursts of creativity can be really productive, often spending hours on a work, can be an over kill. I have used smaller works on paper as a starting point for a larger work, by deconstructing a drawing and pinning to the canvas provides a framework for the direction of a final work, these works become hidden and layered with additional pieces of paper.


‘Outtakes’, 2012, Small paper and
mixed media sculptures
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

My practice is based upon experimentation and chance. I try not to have to set outcomes when making my work, instead I like to go with the flow and let material’s dictate the direction of outcome. I like to mix an element of control through a more structured approach to arranging and composition of an artwork; I like the contrast of the slow speed of the cutout paint marks against the immediacy and expression of the mark making.

What does the future hold for this work?

Scale, is something I would like to push forward for this work, the paintings could shift a gear if it left the proportions of the wall based canvas and instead worked on larger surfaces that might reference the architecture of a space or a site-specific location. The next works are going to be made on polystyrene sheets that might overlap and lean against the gallery wall.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am having a solo exhibition at a London gallery called Vitrine In Oct/ November, some of the featured work will be finished and be on display, please come and have a look! Also I am really happy to be featured on this blog, as I have discovered lots of new and interesting artists through the site, I love seeing artists studios and having a insight into how artists make there work. Many thanks, Bruce.
Untitled, 2012, paint on canvas,
collage and wooden tray frame

Friday, October 5, 2012


2011, 8 x 5 feet, oil on board
 (collection, Jerry Jones, Dallas)
 photo by Martin Seck

What are you working on in your studio right now?

My last show was in June / July 2012 and that was a selection of 14 paintings from the past two years, done since my previous show at Gasser Grunert Gallery in New York. Although I do not work on specific projects and see my painting as ongoing through my life, I do kind of feel that large solo shows are like punctuation marks. Seeing the work together in a gallery space gives me an opportunity to assess it and after that I usually find something changes in my next work. Having said that, I am beginning to work on new paintings since July and trying to move the work along to get rid of some elements that I felt had become a habit and try to go further with some other things - it is of course very difficult to be constantly searching for something new but if not, it would be boring.

Can you describe your working routine?

I live in my studio so I am seldom away from the work, either looking at it or actively working on it. These days I spend a lot of time looking, at certain stages of a painting I may sit and look at it for a few days before continuing to work on it again. I have a fear that time is too short in life to get anywhere with painting, so I always feel a pressure to be constantly working. I draw a lot as it helps me to focus my concentration and this can be helpful when I am painting.

2012, 4 x 3 inches, pencil on paper
 Figureworks Gallery, New York
2012, 5 x 4 inches, pencil on paper,
 Figureworks Gallery, New York.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I live and work in an old Tobacco Warehouse, it is a little bit dark and with a skylight under which I work. The light in here may be a bit like a Rembrandt painting and although I could brighten things up with better and more modern lighting, as you can imagine, I don't want to. I start by painting my boards black and together with the light in my studio, I find this helps me to bring the light out in my work. I think a studio in which an artist can feel at home is important and I have been in this one for 15 years and now I feel comfortable here. I know it well and I have a lot of my history here, I think these things are helpful, I would not like to move to a white box.

In the studio, September 2012
photo by Bui Cong Khanh

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.


I don't really start off with a picture in my mind for the work or a plan as such. I start by putting down colors and let them find their own way to something and I begin to respond to that as things build up on the surface. From then on I always let the painting evolve and together we find our own way along. I always try to make my next painting better than the previous one and different, each new painting is its' own thing, a new journey and exploration. So it is never a clear path or a sure thing of a successful outcome, I see it as an experimentation and a learning process and this element of living on the edge with the outcome of the work I find to be the most exciting way for me to paint. It is also a very highly pressured way of working as everything is done in the moment and many good paintings have been ruined in those few seconds and hopefully some have been all the better for it in the end.

These days I am using a lot of paint, not because I set out with an ambition to have that look of thick paint but because I am constantly changing the painting, in every session I paint the entire surface so the painting looks quite different from one session to the next and the paint thickness builds up because of that. I want to work in this way because I want everything to work together and have a fresh look and be done in that place in time. Therefore the finished painting, is the top layer of paint done in the final session. Those sessions are very physical and intense, they usually last about an hour at the end of which I am both mentally and physically exhausted and I may have about 3 sessions in a day.

I would like to be shocked or surprised by my work, but it is almost impossible to be surprised by something you made yourself, so this is why I am constantly changing things, creating and destroying, discounting the familiar and hoping for the painting to become organic and evolve rather than be designed.

2012, 8 x 5 feet, oil on board
(private collection, Germany)
photo by Martin Seck

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I don't see painting in segments, it is all one thing, the painting is seen as an overall object in the world and it is not a case of having some good parts and some bad parts, as a painting it either works or it doesn't. If something is not right, you need to destroy everything and start again. The thing I am having most trouble resolving is the same thing as always, making something vital. I am trying to unearth something that is new, genuine and bring it into the world, to reveal something essential in life that transcends beyond a painting. Van Gogh did this for example, so it is not an impossible task but I have not found it to be particularly easy. So I keep on trying, day after day and although I realize I am most unlikely to achieve my goal, I would rather try and fail to achieve such a thing than settle for less.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I experiment with all kinds of materials, all kinds of paint and any kind of stuff I think may be useful. I have used air brushes in this work and painted with my hands or stuck on things I find around the place. However, I am these days using on those 8 x 5 feet paintings, only oil paint. I find I can push it further than for example acrylic and I am comfortable with how it behaves. I make a lot of work other than what is usually seen in exhibitions and in that I am using all kinds of stuff.
I started the following painting early in 2010, I had an idea for it when working in Burma in January and February of that year. I keep adding to it and at this point the individual pieces are layered 3 or 4 deep.

2010 - 2012 still ongoing,
currently installed to be 25 x 12 feet,
mixed media on canvas.
photo by Martin Seck
What does the future hold for this work?
I have no set ideas for my work but I hope to be able to make it better.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I grew up in N. Ireland and moved to live in USA in 1997, I have worked a lot in Asia, especially Vietnam but also China, Japan, Korea, Burma and other Asian countries. Although my roots in art go back to a Northern European sensibility and USA, I am almost as much influenced by Asian art and culture.

Svay Ken, Cambodia

I have an almost daily correspondence with Mike Knowles, a painter in Wales. He used to be my teacher at Liverpool Art School and a few years ago we got hooked up again through email. We talk only about painting and I frequently email to him photos of my paintings at the end of each day. This correspondence is important to me and is another element in my work.

Mike Knowles, Wales


Monday, October 1, 2012


Bridgegate, 12.5 x 19cm, Oil and wax on panel, 2012
What are you working on in your studio right now?

I’m currently making paintings and drawings for a UK show in December 2012; small to medium sized work which continues a dialogue between metaphor, architectural space and recalled places.

Can you describe your working routine?

The availability of my time is quite fluid so one week I might find myself working through the day and the next I’m in the studio in the evenings, which I prefer. When I’m in the studio, I’m moving between a number of paintings at any one time; things can happen within one picture that will have a direct correlation to it’s neighbour in terms of communicating when a painting may or may not be finished. I’ll usually have a radio on somewhere in the studio, generally streaming on my laptop. I like to have access to the internet as I’ll often break off from painting to read an article or interview online, or try and decide which catalogue from a past exhibition I’m going to try and track down next. I also drink copious amounts of tea in the studio. When I’m finished, brushes are cleaned, slabs are wiped clear and any detritus from the session is bagged so I’ve a clear run at things when I next get back in.

Studio 2012
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

Until recently, my studio was located in a converted 18th Century hops storage warehouse. I’ve now relocated to a purpose built studio space that is more conducive to making the kinds of paintings I want to. The walls of my studio are bare apart from the paintings I am working on. There is a period of adjustment going on at the moment so it’s too early to tell if the space will have a direct impact upon the work. What has been affecting matters is the spaces I have been working in at Worcester Cathedral as part of an ongoing residency there. The muted and sparse nature of the architecture there appears to be feeding into how recent work is evolving.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
I seldom have a pre-conceived idea of what any painting will end up looking like. Paintings are started then paintings falter or grind to a halt altogether; this prompts a continual adjustment and re-evaluation of compositional concerns as well as issues regarding the physical construction of the work. Often, I will obliterate what I’ve been working on for a few months because the essence of the search has been lost; by this, I mean the failure of certain images is essential to resolving others. I work on at least 15-20 paintings at any one time. The nature of my practice means I work slowly (paintings can take anything from six to twelve months to complete). This means that in order to co-ordinate any meaningful body of work, I have to have many concurrent works in progress.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

Too many things to mention. Some older images, some new.

An Ideal Doubt , 2011 25.5 x 30 cm Oil on linen
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I incorporate various materials into my paintings; wax, whiting, marble dust for example. Sometimes they are mixed into oils while at other times they are applied to the surface of the painting. I enjoy grittiness and accumulation; paintings interest me when you can see the risks the painter has taken. Some of the best work I see is anything but pretty. I’m drawn to integrity of content when it collides with material experimentation.

What does the future hold for this work?

Not sure; that’s why I continue making paintings…to find out.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just to say thank you to Studio Critical for asking me to take part and also to family and friends.


This Broken Seam (Foundation VI),
26 x 31.5cm, Oil on linen, 2012