In my family home when I was growing up we had a small room filled with dollhouses that my Grandpa Jim had meticulously crafted in his old age. I had my own fake suburb to play with, and my first real exercises in imagination involved pushing furniture around stage-like rooms to tell a story about the characters I decided lived in each house.
In my oil paintings for ‘Suburban Rituals’ I feel like I’m still playing with those unreal houses. Windows and other exaggerated open spaces provide a voyeuristic glimpse into households where the occupants are never present. Tools of suburban leisure are scattered throughout the compositions, as if recently abandoned. This indication of sudden absence hints at the sense of surreal mystery that can hide behind stock standard suburban walls, and invites the viewer to imagine their own story about the people who might live there.
When painting, one of my main interests is colour. I’m heavily influenced by palettes from 1960s advertisements for houses and motels. By adopting a retro palette and rendering the houses in a dated style, I’m trying to draw upon the emotion of nostalgia. In these paintings I’ve been experimenting with layering different colours over each other, leaving the edge of the colour underneath to make the paint glow. This technique, coupled with undefined brushstrokes that sink into the linen, attempts to capture the wistful dreaminess that the feeling of nostalgia can conjure.