A few years ago, I was given a copy of Romare Bearden and Carl Holty’s The Painter’s Mind. It is inscribed, “affectionately, Romare.” What a great gift! Although the inscription was not meant for me, it nevertheless feels like a warm embrace every time I open the book. I frequently refer to this book for inspiration and information. Recently, I referred to it in hope that in Bearden's discussion of structure and space, there might be some direct instructions for making a collage. While I think my paintings grow from a type of collage—i.e., mixing various images from my sketchbook—I have never actually married mixed materials to paper. Where to start? My initial inspiration was to use Bearden's diagram of Tintoretto’s The Massacre of the Innocents (1582-87), which Bearden labels “Baroque Rhythms,” as the compositional idea for my piece. While initially intriguing, the idea felt a little confining. Ultimately, I decided to experiment with Bearden's techniques of spraying and staining paint on various pieces paper. I then used these pieces as I would use paint—applying them directly to the primary paper support. The inspiration for this image of an anonymous worker cobbling together a magical machine flows in part from Bearden’s interest in “the conjurer” (one who brings forth something from nothing) and the worker/laborer.
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