At some point in the past I became aware of the fact that we understand ourselves and our lives primarily through stories. I became aware that they are a basic human need, that we need to consume stories, and we need to tell them.
So I started adding figures and robots to landscape paintings, to make them into scenes from imaginary novels, giving them a narrative aspect.
This worked well, but then I recalled my past as an indie self-publishing comic book creator, and realized that the paintings could incorporate even more storytelling. For what is a more visual storytelling medium than comics?
So I started incorporating elements from comic books, such as adding inset images in panels. Sorting out how to compose a painting with this new level of complexity took time and a lot of trial and error. Man, did it take a lot of errors.
And along the way, as I was still figuring that out, I realized I could add another level of narrative and storytelling to the painting: I could put text itself into the paintings. So I started adding actual fragments of stories that I loved, or ones that influenced me, by adding random bits text from those stories to the base layers of the paintings.
The randomness of the fragments is important. It’s important because I’m not trying to tell a linear story or squeeze a whole novel into the paintings: our lives are semi-chaotic assemblages of bits of the stories we’ve read, watched, and told to ourselves. Our lives don’t unfold in clear linear plots with well-organized themes. So the random text and the comic book inset panels create new meanings and associations. The paintings are intended to give the viewer a landscape and some starting points to imagine their own versions of the story. I guess they could be called story-scapes.
And that’s how I’ve arrived at this point in my creative work, where I’ve recently, finally, started to feel like I know how this works, with text and comics and painting and storytelling.