Hell was other people, 2023. 10h 33m

I stood at the shore of a river that cut through the mountain like a knife, beneath a narrow sliver of sky so gray. The water, clear of color and intent, having stripped the dirt from the riverbed eons ago.

I stood on the banks of a country stream enraged, straining, shaking the soil and the stones which bound it. The water was red, the blood of mountains which washed trees away like jetsom.

> Reconsider

There is a phenomenon when you are painting and the work takes on a life of its own. Often this feels like understanding the image on a different level than you did before, and taking that understanding to find new ideas to express which previously wouldn't have fit.

This painting was opaque to me, emotionally, the entire time I painted it. I was in a curious mood when I started it, and in fact I largely did so because I had been getting more and more stressed about how I could work out a transition from the previous painting in the sequence (The Moment, also 2022) that didn't take something important away from that painting's structure and ideas. (Sidenote: on some of these, I imagine very strongly that they stand alone and are neither affected by nor affects their neighboring paintings in the project. On other paintings, I imagine the opposite is true. I do not have a consistent model for how I would prefer these to be enjoyed, and that is quite cowardly of me.)

But oh, right, the painting. I knew I wanted to transition through the eye-socket-hallway instead of the skeletal nose-hole. (I can't believe I get to type sentences like that.) And the only way to do that was to transition through the light fixture, or work out some stuff to see on the stone wall which I could parlay into a new perspective. So I sketched the stones, still pondering what I could add to the scene. The idea of a shoe occurred to me after I had begun roughing in the colors. I liked thinking about the viewer's journey: they saw a man hold a candlestick, become a corpse beside a pillar, become a stone hallway. That hallway could satisfyingly become a cobbled street.

That, by the by, is something I enjoy doing but don't manage to domin enough of these paintings โ€“ to enjoin the viewer to repeatedly reimagine what the subject of the sequence is.

So, conceptually, I'm on board. But I have a hard time drawing shoes, and resolved to draw a shoe I've worn enough to know the angles of. That needed to be a Converse, because the Dad Boots I wear these days would be a little too on the nose for this picture, in addition to being hard to frame.

Even the green was more or less out of convenience, because the other colors I liked I associated too strongly with specific people. 

The Hylozoist is a long-form digital project I began in February 2020. Each painting tells a story, and each painting tells another story when viewed in context. Also, each painting can be followed to the next painting in the series if you follow the most interesting thing in the scene.

To see more paintings from the project, click here.