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Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief is a term filmmakers use to describe the phenomenon of movie audiences forgetting their own lives and stepping into a virtual world on screen. Painters ask viewers of their art to do the same. A painter can transform a flat piece of fabric into the illusion of a three dimensional universe. This series shows some of the steps I, as a painter, took to create a world on canvas.

Environment and other forms of art influence an artist in any medium. A painter can draw from the entire realm of past experience to create works of art. My cultural and physical environment, New Orleans, Louisiana, has strongly influenced this current series. Just as New Orleans lies below sea level, the setting for most paintings in the series is under water. The heat and humidity of Louisiana summers feels like being underwater. Underwater also suggests the floating sensation of dreams and the subconscious.

Music from Louisiana and Africa inspired much of the work. I grouped paintings as triptychs to suggest progressions and variations. One work, Nigerian Suite, shows the influence of music and dance as well as filmmaking. It is a visual suite comprised of three movements that suggest frames of a movie. Another painting, entitled Underwater Music, has a composition influenced by the placement of musical notes on a page.

The work brings together undersea life, Mardi Gras Indians and Tibetan monks blessing Lake Pontchartrain - that’s in one painting. Other works include images of jazz, zydeco and African musicians and dancers I’ve seen at Louisiana festivals.

For an additional perspective on the work, I created animated images of paintings in this series using digital video. The animated images appear to dance, to float and to transform from one painting into another. It gave me an opportunity to add things paintings never have - actual motion and sound. The animated images visually describe the relationships between the works. The images come together in a six minute movie created on computer. The video is intended to inform the process of creating the paintings.

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