The Expanding Color System 2012

About Face: 99 Butterfly Paintings

I make paintings that mimic butterflies.

These butterfly paintings are made in a manner similar to a Rorschach.  I apply paint to paper so that the paint initially takes on the loose shape of a butterfly.  The paper is then folded in half, onto itself.  Unfolding the paper exposes symmetrical paint blotches.  It is important to the original concept that the paint is not forced into a completely predetermined form.  The presence of both paint and painter as collaborative creative forces that determine the outcome is significant.

I first developed this system for my three-year-old daughter so she could make, with my assistance, a butterfly painting.  We compressed the paint between the two layers of paper, applying pressure with our hands and fingers.  I tried to control the pressure points so the paint did not seep to the edges of the paper.  I understood that the empty space around the paint would be an important element in defining our butterfly form.

I see the paintings as an outgrowth of the Zen arts where the end product does not exist solely for the purpose of having created an artwork.

When the artwork is displayed in a gallery in San Francisco, I feel it is often judged by a standard that champions the reductive aspects of Modernism (i.e., Minimalism).  Modernism and its subgroups are fine, but as with religion, I find them a limiting way of seeing the world.

I recently made a butterfly painting that unexpectedly smiled back at me.  I was reminded of how some insects have acquired unbelievably evolved face-like markings as a form of self-defense.

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