Artist Statement for the Meeting Awareness Series
From 2014 to 2023, I painted seven large-scale, close-up faces. They are portraits in one sense, but in another sense these paintings aren't meant to merely be likenesses of anyone. Rather, my intention is to dive deeply into what it means to meet someone directly, to meet their awareness, reality and being.
There is a power in meeting someone's gaze with your own. For a moment, there can be a sense of timelessness, with no separation created by the mind. This is the intention of my paintings – to evoke deep recognition of stillness and oneness. This intention is reinforced by my painting process, which for me is a form of meditation. My mind is stilled as it is given over to awareness, and the painting seems to emerge on its own. Each of these portraits is the product of hundreds of hours of silent attention.
I choose my subjects from my family, friends and acquaintances, all of whom have some quality that intrigues and inspires me. I take photographs of them to work with, and my intention is to see that which is awake in them and put that into paint. The more I paint each subject, the more their Buddha-nature or awakened consciousness becomes clear to me.
My intention is also for the portraits to be real. Real, as in alive. Photo-realism is not my goal; I agree with Matisse that exactitude is not truth. I never use grids or projections in order to be true to my experience of the subject during the entire painting process. As I paint, I see more clearly and make changes, and that is all part of the process.
Although I am grateful for the technology to share images of my paintings online, they must be seen in person, where the face takes up most of one’s field of vision. It is in this way that one can have the direct meditative experience that they offer.