This painting represents a lot of things I like: cats, leisure, books, reading, poetry, parallel play, and plants, among others. It appeared in (and was sold via) a small group show called "Known/Unknown: A Portrait of Figures that Surround Our Lives" in 2022.
The painting started from a single sketch in pencil on paper. The original drawing had the single male figure to the right and the cat and most of the other elements in the final painting. I then moved from the sketch to my iPad and did a digital mock up for the painting with colors similar to what’s in the final. The painting was initially worked up in acrylic and then worked over in oil paint. I spent approximately two years working on it off and on. I believe the original sketch is from 2019 and the painting was finished around early April 2022.
The inspiration for the painting comes from a few places in my experience, one of them being a deep love for poetry that goes back to childhood. I’ve spent a lot of my life writing and reading poetry and went to graduate school for poetry writing. The love of language is represented in the books and in the figures who are reading, and the figures are kind of loosely modeled after my wife and I, but only very indirectly. The cat actually was worked up after a photograph of a cat I had and Chloe.
Also important to me, and informing the painting, was to find a balance between abstraction and figuration and also between inside and outside. In other words, for example, what you see through the windows beyond the room the figures are in is kind of abstracted and sort of like gestures towards a road, etc., and also the colors of the interior very much speak to colors of the exterior world and plant life—the greens, etc.
Overall, the painting comes from interests I have in representing peace and beauty and tranquility. I also like working with flat surfaces that have dimension by virtue of shadows and perspective and which are worked up with design elements like the central figure’s dress or some of the plant leaves.