I started this project to start painting again, to start painting faces again, to bear witness to the beauty that lies within each of us. I invited family, friends, acquaintances, celebrities — all with some connection to me, Pennsylvania, or the City of Philadelphia. And I invited strangers, via Instagram, via calls to sit for portraits.
I chose to paint on pizza boxes for several reasons. As I was giving away the paintings for free, the boxes were cheap surfaces. They are square and they fit nicely on Instagram. They are actual boxes that fold up, enclose and protect the portrait painting inside of them when portrait sitters had to take the portrait from the Pier in rain and snow. And they’re kitschy. And who doesn’t like kitschy.
As with the best gifts, the giver gets the most out of the exchange. And at the tip of the iceberg, I developed a body of work, found some renewed artistic discipline, and met a group of people I would not have otherwise encountered.
During this process, there were times — there still ARE times — when I sat down to paint some stranger walking in my door for the first time and I thought to myself “what a faker I am, pretending to be able to turn this piece of cardboard into a beautiful portrait.”
Sometimes it took 20 minutes, sometimes as long as 5 minutes before the painting was done, until I became that first witness to each sitter’s likeness as it started to emerge from the cardboard. That experience of being the first witness to an emerging painting is my gift to myself and I hope to give myself that gift again and again for many years to come.
What you see before you are the prints of the paintings that were given away to each sitter. Should you like, come upstairs to Studio 15 and tell me your thoughts about the show. Thanks for looking.