During grad school, I got to spend all day with my head in the abstract clouds of 18th c. philosophy. This was great, but I realized that I needed to do something to get my hands dirty at the end of the day. So I took up oil painting and now I can't stop. These days I spend most of my time as a professor (see here) and a dad (here), but I still manage to eek out one or two hours in front of the easel most nights. 

People often ask whether there's a connection between my work in philosophy and my art. The only real connection is that they satisfy completely opposite impulses in me. Philosophy (at least the kind I work on) is all about considering things in the most abstract and generalized terms. That sort of thinking takes me very far from the world of tangible people and things. So I end up wanting to paint and draw hyper-detailed images as a way to celebrate things in their concrete particularity. If I paint a building, I make sure to paint every single brick; if I paint a dress, every polka dot goes in its place. 

I'm still experimenting with styles. Sometimes I go for subdued, minimal palettes; other times I play with brightly saturated colors. Most of my paintings are based on pictures I've taken, and I usually plan things out in Photoshop to make sure the composition will work the way I want it to.

I usually work with an "indirect" approach to getting the paint down: I typically start with an imprimatura, followed by a semi-opaque underpainting, and then pile layer after layer of semi-transparent glazes to get smooth contours, a sense of depth, and other cool optical effects. My favorite medium is Gamblin's Neo Megilp (a synthetic, more permanent version of 19th c. "maroger" medium), but I often use more traditional mediums too.  

If you have any questions or just want to get in touch, send me an email: everysinglebrick@gmail.com.

 
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