ancient history




That's the name of the folder in my computer where these images are housed. Because they are, indeed, ancient. Like a lot of other artists I know, it's really, really hard for me to look at my older work. It's actually really hideously painfully embarrassing and it makes me want to vomit a little. So, since I've had a few beers and I'm in a soul-bearing kind of mood (don't drink, kids), I've decided to make public some of my early work.

To be fair, this isn't really "early" in the true sense of the word. I've been painting since the age of seven (and drawing since two), and so technically "early" would be the acrylic-on-canvas-board paintings from second grade (and earlier still would be my circular "face" drawings from five years prior, which my mom still has in a photo album). But I don't have pictures of those. Two of the three paintings you see here were made in my college days, in the last dramatic throes of teenage angst and the pseudo-intellectual climate of SUNY New Paltz's Smiley Art Building (yes, that was really its name), and one was made in my senior year of high school. Bet you can't guess which one.

Actually, I have a few more pictures of paintings I did in college. I photographed them for posterity, I guess, but none of them survive today. I tend to be very unsentimental about my own work, and if I think it sucks, and these did, I destroy them happily. I have literally ripped paintings apart. No, we aren't going to be seeing them. Why? Because they're stupid, that's why. These three are the least offensive to me, and I apparently was going through a three-to-four-year sap green phase.

The top image is titled Night, and was made sometime in my second or third year of college. Possibly earlier, like the summer after my first year. Painted from memory, this was back before I became very meticulous about rendering and sketching. I actually really still like this one, for all its awkward shoulder blades, and still have it. It's about 12 X 16 inches, or thereabouts. The little pink ear is my favorite part, and this was featured in New Paltz's Queer Action Coalition art show. It made a few people blush. I'm not kidding.

Next is Bermuda, 11 X 12 inches, taken from a photograph of my mother's friend Mary. Mary, Mom and I went to Bermuda the April I was six, and this was one of the many photographs that resulted. Mary is somewhat insecure about her appearance, and would likely die if she knew I made this (and posted it on the Interwebs). This is the one that I did in high school, at about the age of seventeen. It's funny because of the three, I think this is the least dramatic and emotional, and the most interestingly rendered. I still have this one, too.

Lastly is a painting that was titled Did You Hear What I Said, and was created in response to having to deal with the obtuse population of New Paltz. This was a remnant of some Cranach the Elder/John Currin/body horror thing I was going through, and thankfully have not felt the need to return to. It's, um, okay. I have absolutely nothing to say about this painting, having created it in a vastly different time in my life. All I can say is that it was inspired by my overwhelming desire to have people stay the fuck away from me. It was 10 X 10 inches, and no longer exists, and nor does its never-completed partner painting. The stretchers now hold the "Little Medieval" paintings.

All I can say about these is that it feels like someone else made them, looking at them now. They seem very foreign. Not necessarily bad--I still do really like Bermuda and Night--but sprung from a different person's brain. Although interestingly I feel more of a connection to the older ones, and the most recent, Did You Hear..., is the most foreign one to me, proving that time doesn't necessarily move, in terms of artistic development, in a straight line. This is, along with the other ones we won't be looking at, the unformed, undisciplined and primitive beginnings of the psychological aspects of my artwork. It's embarrassing to behold, but I still think it's important to remember where you come from.