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    When I paint, I become lost in meditation over the beauty of my subject. That beauty is a combination of its natural form and the pattern of light and shadow that it produces. I allow myself to absorb the entirety of a scene and then recreate it, always enhancing that which I find most visually stunning. Although I my paintings are founded in reality, I have little interest in duplicating reality: I am not a photographer. I am a painter, and my duty as such is to create a visual essay in the experience of observation. What I experience isn’t always what I see; and by that same token what I see isn’t necessarily visual truth. I paint to share a visual experience, not to simply tell the story of a person or present a mundane object. My chosen subject is a minimal prompt for a very long visual essay. This is why I use humans and humanoid figurines interchangeably: the visual experience is remarkably similar.

    When I paint from life, I respect reality to a point. I strive to exactly recreate the angles, curves, and shadows on my subject. But reality is merely a guideline, and as my career as an artist has progressed I’ve increasingly manipulated light and color to create an image which transcends reality. I began painting almost exclusively from life in 2008, starting with humanoid figurines and progressing to human models in 2010. My trademark has historically been arbitrary, bright, monochromatic or dichromatic colors.

    In late 2012 I stepped away from this aesthetic and began to explore the beauty of subtle, dull colors, and how we experience them in relationship to true grays. My most recent figurative works are painted in grayscale acrylic while working with the model. Color is then added in oil to create a fade-to-gray effect. I deeply enjoy the raw graphic marks of the acrylic used in the figures mated with the subtle hues used in the background. I love both the visual effect and the extraordinary challenge of creating it. I plan to continue this series in 2014 and 2015.

Philip Carlton
10/1/2014