My new series of paintings is entitled “The Suggestion Series”. This is a subcategory of my ongoing “Fragments” series that I have previously discussed. I started working on this project a year ago, and it’s become quite an adventure.
I asked fifteen people for ideas, verbally or in writing, that would become the basis for fifteen paintings. I would paint whatever they said; their words would be the basis for the paintings. Some contributors were strangers. Some of the contributors I barely knew, but came to know well. Some people I already knew well and learned more. I encouraged people to avoid “visual” ideas and steered them more toward abstraction.
When I started the project, I wasn’t sure if I’d even like the suggestions I’d be forced to work with. The results were unexpected. I was surprised by how willing everyone was to share themselves and how candid some of the statements were. I was surprised how often people wanted to discuss ideas involving God, life, death, etc. One unsuspected side effect occurred when several participants met each other and formed their own social relationships, changing the meanings of the paintings in the process.
And why are there sixteen paintings now? Because one guy had two ideas, and they were both so good, I had to use them.
One woman’s suggestion/painting involves her preoccupation with the other fourteen participants, their ideas and what their paintings look like.
The contributors didn’t disengage from the project after offering their ideas, and they continue to have an ongoing involvement in the process. The interviews ranged from five minutes for some contributors, to hours, days and weeks for others. The interviews themselves became lengthy discourses about everything under the sun, and it was alternatively fascinating, terrifying and hilarious. Where will it go now? I have no idea; I’m working on the paintings, just along for the ride. This project sprouted legs and ran away from me a long time ago.
Will the fifteen participants coalesce and form a Jeff Koons-esque army, looking for craftspeople to execute their ongoing ideas? Creative self-discovery does this to us. That’s the P.T. Barnum element, there’s a sucker born every minute! I suckered them into putting on the “creator” hat (albeit willingly), and I suckered myself into a position where I had to admit that this thing was out of my control and had a life of its own, and the best position for myself as a painter was to sit back and watch. Oh, and also to benefit from their great ideas!
I am sincerely grateful to the participants. Thanks for being involved in my project and also for being so into it!
As of this writing, I am almost through the interview phase, sketched nearly all of the suggestions and I’ve completed six of the actual paintings. Stay tuned to the website, I plan on posting the other paintings as I finish them, and I look forward to your feedback.