Imploding Kleenex (oil, acrylic and acrylic gel, and metallic paint) 1983. I may have painted the blue portion of this canvas on campus during a class, but experimental elements required me finishing the work at home.
Artist and Effort (1983): The second photograph is also of me at the kitchen table, where I created most of my paintings as an undergraduate. I cannot recall the title of the painting upon which I work, but given the planetary light spectrums running across the bottom, the title likely involved Doppler Shifts. Like Imploding Kleenex, this painting also used oil, acrylic, acrylic gel, and metallic paint, so these works were likely painted back-to-back.
An Upstart From The Get-go: Once I had impressed my teachers at Memphis State University (now The University of Memphis) that I could paint a conventional still-life, I set about never painting a work of conventional realism again. As I describe it in Icarus Transfigured: “His undergraduate work was a hodgepodge of approaches, which reflected what he was exposed to in his art history survey courses. He cross-pollinated styles and epochs, first by reverse-engineering passages lifted from Dali, Caravaggio, and Ingres, and then combining this knowledge, in Dadaist assemblages, with Pollack’s dripped paint technique and Oldenburg-inspired cloth sculpture.”
Tabling Halloween Pangs (oil) 1983. This is one of few canvases I painted on college premises, and technically it is my third painting. This venture began its life with a still-life set up in a painting class.
Nuclear Hygiene 1983. I combined oil, acrylic, cloth sculpture, and found objects in this Pollackesque painting. (If you look carefully, you may spot a toothbrush.) This work was inspired by Dali’s psychedelic painting Tuna Catch, which in turn was inspired by the works of Spanish Symbolist painter, Nestor.
Untitled (watercolor based on still-life) 1983. I talk about my views on watercolor in pages dedicated to works on paper.
Lab Animals on Vacation (1983). This work, inspired by Klee and Dubuffet, was created by applying wax and oil over a textured surface of acrylic and modeling paste.
Halloween (Vernon Cove) (acrylic on paper) 1983. This is my first pointillist painting, although I have kept the technique and adapted it throughout the years to other projects. When I lived in Memphis, Tennessee as a child and young man, I spent most of my time in my small back bedroom. I only left this room to mow the yard, and (less so as time went along) to visit relatives in other states. My bedroom and yard were my monastery and grounds, upon which I built up a peculiar romanticism that still turns up in dreams decades later. There are several images here where I depict my Vernon Cove address in Memphis. Halloween and Whispers, Isabella? offer one view, while in Gotterdammerung we see the street from the opposite direction.
Nature Confusing Optical Art for Nature is a parody on Victor Vasarely’s claim that Optical Art was nature painting. Most of the work created at this time contains colors paired by color theory, reflecting information gained from my color theory classes. Professor Larry Edwards told me candidly in a critque that I used the color red violet too frequently, and upon realizing this, I have used the color sparingly since. This is acrylic on paper from 1983.
The Non-Conforming Main Course (oil and acrylic) 1983. Cloth sculpture a la Oldenburg with modified found objects a la Synthetic Cubism. This is the best of my cloth and altered-surface creations. The next best was sold out of my BFA show, but I do not have a good slide of that piece. The work below is the third best. Of the remainder, they are uniformly horrible—and I made too many of them.
3-D Painted Sculpture: Kandinsky inspired, but I do not recall its title.
Snares of The Self-Taught Painter: My main regret as an artist is that, because of my insistence on imagination, I did not allow myself to be influenced by mechanical artists, especially as mechanical painting was (generally) what I did. Resultantly, I was unable to apply gained know-how in this area retroactively on so much unschooled early work. I do not shrink from sharing this work with you, as my mistakes, and lessons learned, have benefited my painting students greatly.
Snares of Anatomy: Because I did not have access to live models during my undergraduate studio work, I had to envision female anatomy and retrofit it imperfectly from catalog and magazine photos. It was doubly difficult to perdict lighting effects and the geometry of drapery folds over these volumetric forms. In lacking expertise in these interpretations, I wisely withdrew from ambitious figure painting upon entering graduate school.
Muzak Nude Study (mixed media) 1984
Destruction of Some Works: Young artists tend to create large and ambitious pieces. These works become headaches where photographing, shipping, and storage is concerned. In my case (and I do not think I am unusual in doing this), I have destroyed early works where I cannot properly store them. Moreover, I came to regard these pieces as eyesores when compared to later, better work. The next four canvases were destroyed in Memphis after graduate school because of their three-dimensional elements. This aspect made them bulky space-eaters once they were removed from their stretchers, so they did not return with me to Bloomington.
Muzak Nude (oil, acrylic, and modified found object) 1984
Telegraphing One's Intentions (oil, acrylic, and modified found objects) 1984
His Vigil Having Lapsed (oil, acrylic, and modified found object) 1984
The Other Worldly Nude (oil, acrylic, and modified found objects) 1984
Mayan Fly Devouring Fly (soapstone) 1984
Untitled (pencil and powdered graphite on illustration board) 1984. The gridwork evokes Piet Mondrian.
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