Again I came across the work of William Stoher accidently while trawling Facebook. I instantly connected with these women. I was able to fill in the gaps and give each one a story.
Starting with a vague or elusive expression and an uncertain context, I hope to provoke viewers into visually completing my portraits with their own more complete and ideal mental image and to then create the narrative based on their own experience and feelings.
We are attracted to faces – it is our nature. If I fill the canvas with a big face then there is little room for external leading context. I think that the large size and closely cropped image creates an elevated sense of intimacy. Searching for meaning, viewers may turn inward to create a subjective reality.
If I engage you with eyes then I can also start to do other things peripherally with line and color. I can color outside of the lines and your mind will resolve it. Vague and scribbled outlines and graphic vectors become part of a recognizable whole while a hint of “unreal” complimentary and equal value color causes the eyes to seem life-like. I experiment with the amount and type of information required to evoke an image and to find those characteristics that cause the viewer to emotionally respond to the portrait.
All of my paintings start with a live model and then I work from reference photographs. I have developed a practice of deliberately reacting to less than controlled and/or accidental incidences.
I use a limited pallet of acrylic paint. I vary the coverage, spraying varnish between layers and then scrubbing, scraping, scratching or sanding the surface while applying a variety of marks – strokes, dots and other adjustments. I try not to differentiate between my drawing and painting.
These paintings tend to be layers of fresh starts. I believe I might have a finished face one day but soon I brush, flow or spill paint all over the surface, leaving traces – a template to guide the next iteration.
It seems that whenever I think I have a new idea I find someone who did it, sometimes, centuries ago. I am not interested in imitation. I am interested in continuing their inquiries. I consider myself to be a traditional artist in search of ways to build on the past. In the end I am attempting to facilitate alternative emotional experiences through the use of changing and alternate points of view, engaging gaze, uncertain context, elusive emotion and naturalistic cues.