This rather unusual (for me) image was painted during the time when I "wasn't painting", and was a little light relief from the resume of suicide
methods I was otherwise fixated on...|
I had just been introduced to the wonders of modern technology in the form of a personal computer connected to the fledgling internet, and also a
flat-bed scanner. I was fascinated by the possibilities of the scanner and one of the first things I tried was to scan various body parts, namely my
hands and face. As a joke, I did one of me with open mouth in a kind of silent scream a la Munch's famous "Scream". You could then manipulate the images
on the computer using Photoshop or whatever it was then.. So I pixelated my face like they had started to do on tv when they wanted to obscure someone's
identity. Mine would be a cyber-scream...
After several months of not painting my need to express myself was overcoming the inertia that had set in due to my illness. I had been experimenting
with using wax in an encaustic manner. There was little info about the process at that time - it was one of the first things I searched for on the
internet and there was nothing in 1998. All I knew was that it was an ancient and little known medium used by the Egyptions to paint funeral portraits
thousands of years ago and, more recently, by American Pop artist Jasper John's in his famous "Target" paintings.
I wanted to reproduce the image I had scanned at a large scale using the encaustic wax and I couldn't think how to approach it, until I made the
beeswax plus pigment into my own homemade crayons. I then laid out a big canvas on the floor and after transfering some reference points from the scan,
I used the wax crayons to colour it in. I melted it directly on the canvas using a hot-air gun and then rubbed the crayon over it and found I could
achieve interesting and rich textures and surfaces.
Jasper Johns had incorporated collaged newspapers into his encaustic work and I thought it would be interesting to do the modern equivalant using text
printed out from the internet. So I used that beneath the pixilated area of my face. I had a lot of fun deliberately doing searches on the early
search engines like Alta-Vista of all the things that the conventional media of the time was scaremongering about, such as tacky porn, bomb recipes -
I got recipes for "Bombe Alaska"... and, much to my amusement a search for "Top Secret" turned up a list of top secretaries!
I entitled the painting FAQ for "frequently asked questions"