I have been in the studio this week working on another collaborative piece. In many of my paintings I have experimented with text elements in different ways but this time, I decided to approach it from a different direction. Generally, I will search around for some segment of text (often times taken from the writings of the talented models) to hijack for the paintings. Words will get swapped, sentences will be moved around, meanings will be distorted and played with and a sort of word collage will happen that will then be layered over the painted image.

This time I handed control of the text over to someone else. It was just dumb luck really, I was sitting in the studio, struggling over the phrase to use in this painting and got a call from a friend of mine – he said, “Hey we have a lot of friends that are working on some amazing projects… why don’t we collaborate more?” Perfect timing. I sent Mitchel Heard (who happens to be, among other things, a songwriter and poet) the image for this portrait that night and asked him to come up with a phrase or two. I was pretty interested in how this little experiment would work out, two (possibly conflicting) interpretations of the same image coming together into one piece. Whether I liked what he came up with or not, it was going to be featured prominently in this painting – fortunately he nailed it.

I won’t reveal the text he came up with yet but, here is a shot of the painting in progress after the first few days or work:

I have jumped back into my collaboration piece with Kenji with the intention of showing the first panel at the Distillery Gallery in South Boston this week in the “Make It Together” show. Here is the piece as it sits now, still painting away but, it’s starting to look pretty good:

So, come down to Southie this Thursday and enjoy a cold Narragansett and check it out (along with a lot of other cool collaboration pieces).

Click here to get details on the Distillery Gallery website or,
click here to check out the event on Facebook.

I am sure that anyone reading this site will quickly realize that I like to play with text in my paintings. Fragments of stories or snippets of text litter my mind and always seem to find a way to fall onto my canvasses. So far I have always stuck with cutting stencils of a fairly run of the mill font (Garamond bold, for any design nerds following along), I tried to pick something that would not grab too much attention, an everyday typeface with just a little flair to keep it from falling to far into the background. The next painting will be different.

This time I am handing off the letter work to my friend (and Distillery neighbor) Kenji Nakayama. Kenji is a super talented stencil artist and, as luck would have it, he happens to have some serious skills when it comes to lettering and pinstriping. So, for this painting I started off by doing a fairly ghostly black and white underpainting, and then handed the panels off to Kenji. I have no idea what he will come up with but, I trust it will be great. Once he is done with it, he will hand it back to me and I will add the full color portrait right on top. Should turn out to be a pretty interesting painting.

Here is how the painting looks today, right before I dropped it off at Kenji’s studio (this is only one panel of the two, cropped to keep it rated G for facebook, click here to see the full painting).

It’s always scary to lose control of a painting in progress but, I am excited to see what comes back.