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James Michael O'Brien

Email: jamesobrienart@yahoo.com
O'Brien Art, LLC

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Ghosts under the surface

January 28, 2019

 

 

This January I began a project using older paintings as a foundation for new works. 

Many of these older paintings were incomplete, discarded, or damaged thus making the decision to work over these paintings fairly easy. My goal was to begin a painting with what I call a "given grounding". This way there was an established structure and history, that I would have to deal with while constructing a new image.

I began imagining the landscape as a singular encompassing surface; trying to consider the structures that lay beneath. When painting, I think about the canvas material, the stretcher bars, the tilt of the easel that is influenced by the slight slope of the floor. I try to imagine the grander cosmic phenomenons currently at play.

The natural landscape and the painting's surface is constantly in flux reacting to everything that came before it.  

Today I decided to challenge myself and select a work that wasn't incomplete or damaged. I selected one of the first portraits of my wife. This was a piece that I admired and had kept in my studio for years. 

Early on in my process I realized that I didn't have any documentation of the previous image. I paused instantly and snapped a photo! Here you can see the ghost of the previous painting faded into the background. 

Within these five images you see me let go of this memory... 

 




In this last photo, zoom in and look a little towards the left side. I see a new eye emerging from within the distant grayed shape. Although the portrait was completely covered, I feel like there are still residual effects at play. It feels like a ghost took up the space peering from behind the wet paint and even closer to me than before.

 

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