On still life pastel drawings (refer to "Objects" page)
Most of the subjects of this still life series are obsolete things I own. They are not things I’ve had for long or things I used to use, but new acquisitions acquired for free and by chance. I’m drawn to the play of light on the forms and subdued colors, and the way you can see the mechanical workings, like bones, of the once-utilitarian objects turned centerpieces.
My stark portrayals of the objects can have a phantom-like quality. When I feel like a drawing of something inanimate is successful, there might be a surreal feeling of a disembodied soul, like the ghost of a vintage thing floating against darkness. I might be left with a strange but comforted feeling of something inanimate given a second chance at life.
On Landscapes over Collage
Most of my landscape paintings are of beautiful places near where I live. I use these settings in search of what the Spanish call duende, a heightened state of emotion, expression, and authenticity. I cannot pursue this by only documenting these natural settings, but by creating something more experiential.
I’m influencing the way a landscape looks to suggest the way the landscape feels. I incorporate collage in the initial layer because I am interested in the interplay between the painted form and the printed collaged images, and the resultant ambiguous space. Some marks reject natural color or placement and deny the need for literal representation in pursuit of feeling.
pastel and dry pigment on linen, 60" x 56", 2014
This piece is inspired by a photograph of my father, John Carpenter Seely, as he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. (He had been among a row of pilots crouching in the foreground in the photo, and not in this final piece.) Having lost so many of his friends fighting along side him during the war, he carried a certain melancholy, surely stemming in part from survivor's guilt. As a child I once asked him what had scared him the most in his lifetime. He said spatial disorientation while flying in whiteout conditions during the war had been the most frightening moment.
The five, alive here, are his friends as they were before they almost certainly perished. This isn't a pro-war piece, but rather an acknowledgment of the cost of war and lives lost far too soon.