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SS: 006 Questions for a painter from a painter.

What do I want to say? What is the purpose of this painting? Why do I believe in this painting?

These are questions I've been asking myself regularly over the past few weeks in the studio. As a student your faculty are the ones who ask these questions during class and critiques. So now as I work alone in the studio I try to focus on these simple questions so I don't get lost making paintings for the wrong reasons.

Artists are expected to have statements that share a background about themselves and their art. Right now I'm trying to not worry about locking myself into a template, considering how often I tend to change the "look" of my work.

I think that keeping everything simple is the best plan for me. When I talk about my paintings I try to explain them from their foundation or the source of inspiration. I'm struggling a little bit with understanding what I want my paintings to do once their finished. The process is taking priority over the message I think. Some might think this is backwards or incorrect. I think it's up to the artist. If their trying to make something to carry out a pre-existing concept or if they are trying to push the experience they have during the process and discover the meaning of the work later in life.

I would relate closer to the second route. Most of my paintings, since graduating, are really about finding interesting visual images that make me want to keep looking. Painting is a form of communicating with myself that is capable of sharing with other people. That may sound like common sense, but I think its important to acknowledge that the conversation a creator/artist is having with their project is equally as important to the conversations the art produces once finished.

My process is pretty loose right now. An average day in the studio runs without a schedule. I come in and find something to continue painting or I find a new surface (canvas, masonite board, paper, or mylar) to start a painting on. My paintings are unpredictable. I have a very simple vision for what each painting is going to look like when its done, but I try not to focus too much on recreating photographs because that process can become stale.

I've found a few remedies that seem to work when a painting starts to lose or bore me. One of these remedies is putting a thin layer of color over the entire painting. Not only does it help break up a dull surface, but it also reminds me that the materials are unimportant. Painting is about what the image holds not the materials.

My mother and girlfriend were in the studio a few weekends ago. They were observing new and old paintings that hang on the walls. My mom mentioned how a lot of the faces I paint are obscured. I agree with her. I don't really know why I enjoy painting faces that are hard to identify. I think there are psychological reasons that would explain this. But to be honest, I don't think I would want to label the choices behind how I'm painting. I love paintings that were unexpected or that have a feeling of adventure in them. I'd much rather look at something that happened organically and wasn't forced.

I know that I like painting faces. I think that people are absolutely fascinating. I think that trying to understand someone's true self and personality is one of my favorite parts of meeting and living with people.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a group about my art and my background as an artist. I stated how I struggle with the way I'm perceived by others. I grew up on a farm in Bristol, Wisconsin. My mom is American and from European descent. My father is originally from Mexico along with his relatives. Since the age of four I was raised with my two siblings by our single mom. If you've met me you might agree that I have very dark features. Knowing that my father's genes are Mexican would help to understand why I have dark brown hair and eyes along with tan skin. I also recieved his name Hector Acuna. It wasn't until I was in middle school that this started to bother me.

I started to feel like an outsider. Growing up in the countryside of a midwest town; my siblings and I were judged differently by strangers and peers because of our exterior features. I think that if you've ever been in a situation like this you would know how strange it is to feel like your inside self doesn't match your outside self. That's the best way I can explain it.

I don't know. Maybe everyone secretly feels this way. Maybe not word for word, but I feel like it's such a strange thing that we judge eachother's personality, values, and thoughts based on an appearance.

This whole concept is whats been on my mind a lot lately. I think as I paint relatives and anscestors I find myself remembering how I felt at different parts of my life.

I don't want my paintings to try to match a definition I'm attaching to it. Right now I'd rather think about honest thoughts while I work on images of people I actually know and care about. And then hope the paintings are interesting enough to evoke new emotions/conversations between people.

Thanks for reading I hope it wasn't too confusing or hard to follow.

- Hector


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