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Alan Greenspan
Oil on canvas
20 x 20 in
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I see in the human face a whole terrain of possibility. A live sitterís energy would be too much, and so I work from photographs. Whether the photo is of someone I know or a celebrity or even someone no longer on the planet, it is always the same: a dialogue beginsÖ Who are you? What do you want? What have you seen? Ö until bit by bit a channel opens and if I am lucky the person steps forward, allowing me to see some part of them that is real and true. In that way, hopefully, the painting becomes a revelation.

I never know how a canvas will turn out. A lot happens by accident. As I draw the face I begin to see possibilities, but it is really the paint itself and the feelings I get from the photo, the image that tell me how to proceed. There are times I find the task so daunting Ė the re-creation, for instance, of a pair of eyes peeping slyly out of the bone Ė that itís like taking a dive from the high board. I think to myself, I canít do this and practically shut my own eyes in fierce concentration until somehow the job gets done. It is all a mystery.

The portraits offered here range from well-known personalities (such as Bernie Madoff, whose particular brand of lunacy fascinated me) to friends and relatives to faces I saw in the newspaper or street.

Bio: I grew up in New York City, have lived in Austin since 1991, and became a member of Pump Project in Austin, Texas, in the summer of 2009. Together with Bill Chancellor, I wrote and illustrated the novel High Frequency, a spoof on the saints and sinners of new age Austin in 2007.

Despite art school training, a lot of my life has been spent writing novels and short stories. Itís only in recent years that Iíve switched back. The truth is, all I really want to do is tell a story. For me, right now, paint is a quicker, more satisfying fix.

Nicole Jeffords