Artist Statement

"I read a lot of fiction, both short stories and novels, and this influences the way I think about painting.  Fiction is artificial, but it can feel more real than non-fiction, at least on a visceral, emotional level.  As a representational painter, I want my paintings to have this same novelistic, artificial quality, rather than be based on fact and first person perception in the way of a documentary or a memoir. 

My paintings are loosely inspired by my own experiences.  I filter bits of autobiography and vignettes from everyday observations into my work, recasting them as mysterious dramas that would be unlikely, if not impossible, in the real world.  They are only vaguely narrative: the action tends to be opaque, and the bittersweet humor lies mostly in the psychological tension of the characters, whose self-perception does not match the reality around them.

In my paintings, awkward-looking people appear in slightly skewed versions of the Brooklyn landscape where I live and work, sometimes engaging it in odd ways and sometimes willfully ignoring it.  They cling to false forms of security.  On some level they know that the illusion of safety is on the verge of being broken.  The scenarios can border on the absurd, but, like people in a magical realist novel, my characters unquestioningly accept this as normal.  The imagery is an externalization of the characters' inner frustrations: their wishful thinking and willful blindness is a thin shield against the onslaught of unwanted self-awareness.  These paintings are in some ways a self-deprecating portrait of my own insecurities, and in other ways an amused observation of the way we all approach the world through self-interested, selective awareness, with the hopes and expectations clouding our vision.

I work mainly from my imagination, with the help of mirrors, studies from life, and photographs.  I usually start with an improvised drawing through which the imagery evolves organically and spontaneously.  The drawings suggest a loose narrative for the paintings: not a sequential story, but a series of related vignettes about the same or similar characters." -Rebecca Litt