Joseph Patrick



About Recent Oil and Watercolor Paintings

Over the last three decades I have been visiting and painting markets and gardens in Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. My preoccupation with these two subjects is, perhaps, because they seem to be such opposites of each other. On the one hand, the market is crowded and smelly, harsh, chaotic, and nerve-wracking. On the other, gardens are solitary and aromatic, and working for days alone in nature can be meditative and tranquilizing. Yet these two extremes share a multiplicity of forms, light, color --- formal elements that must be tackled and tamed to the ordered confines of the canvas or paper. These pursuits of finding the “architecture” of a place, market or landscape, are processes that interest me. That makes me a formalist, I must confess. But I am also subject to indulging myself in some subjective delights, those nagging inclinations and premonitions that are goaded from the inside by something working from the outside. A sense of threat or dread or euphoria or longing or sadness, prompted by these colors, those shapes, a quality of joy in the light, a whisper of death in the darkness.

The “scenic” is not interesting to me; the evocation of qualities beyond it are. An artist, of course, wishes to keep options open. Especially in the early stages of apprenticeship these directions must remain adaptable and inquisitive regarding the exact route that will be taken. And perhaps along the way the vehicles one employs and even the destination one seeks may change. I feel fortunate, growing older, to have settled upon certain goals for my paintings, ones that include preordained subjects and procedures. This has allowed me to articulate my objectives with some degree of clarity, to set out a plan and follow it without feeling any creative constraints on those options artists wish to keep open.


Garden Watercolors

The watercolors involve my going daily to a chosen site, first drawing and then painting the selected image at its locale, then returning to it on a daily schedule, spending four to five hours per sitting, until the painting is completed. This process usually takes ten days to two weeks. My practice involves meticulous dedication to verisimilitude, consistent throughout a work's entirety.


Market Oils

I develop my paintings slowly. First, I go to a market to make a series of photographs of subjects which interest me formally and conceptually. Next, from a large group of color transparencies, the chosen image is projected onto a canvas that has been prepared to fit that portion of the image I choose to study. I make a rather detailed drawing in pencil on the canvas, and for the next four or five weeks I proceed to translate aspects of the photographic image onto the canvas in oil paint.


About These Photographs

Making slides was always an important part of how I documented and came to understand my visual experiences. They became the keys to memory, and later, the sources for my paintings of Mexico.

Besides the fact that they addressed scenes of personal meaning to me, these pictures also seemed to dignify themselves through their formal elements of color and composition and their ability to depict the particulars of a place while simultaneously evoking formal and metaphorical associations. Such qualities were related to my art making priorities rather than simply an urge to record. I began to select some of these slide images to translate into oil paintings, yet many rich images languished among a group I thought of as interesting photos in themselves. Then, along came the computer, the slide scanner, the printer, archival inks and papers.


About These Drawings

Recently I read a sentence that confirmed a belief that I have long held and tried to live up to in making my drawings of heads. In 1490, Leonardo described the portrait as a vehicle for expressing "the motions of the mind."

I ask people to pose for me because I am interested in them, their looks and their lives. They are friends, old and young, neighbors, students, colleagues. I try to find some true things to show about an individual. Sometimes a likeness occurs, and that's rewarding. But for me the pleasure comes when the drawing itself comes alive---when it flows, sings, dances, crackles.

I learn by working in series, making a group of drawings of the same person. New insights grow out of the continual looking and searching, learning from the previous drawings things that could not be known without having first done them --- a simple lesson from Matisse and Picasso and many others.

I like letting my intuition suggest things, not knowing what might happen next, scaring myself by discovering the unexpected. Sometimes that is a condition I have to court. At other times a particular sitter will liberate me into taking chances. I am aided in this subterfuge by using a variety of drawing media, mixing them for the pleasure of seeing what will happen, watching the energy of my responses affect some visual play on the paper, seeing the smoothness of pastel against the raggedness of pencil, or the wetness of ink wash against dry charcoal. All of this aids in revealing “the motions of the mind.”



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