Two Oaks (Castles in the Sky), 2009 Oil on linen 22 × 30 inches
Two Oaks (Castles in the Sky), 2009
Oil on linen 22 × 30 inches

Around this time Ingrid Sischy asked me, then the editor of Interview magazine to "cover" the Haute Couture shows in Paris. I still have no clear idea of why she asked me, but am forever grateful because truly was an experience that changed my life and career. I think she wanted me to be a sort of sketch artist, like in the olden times, and I was able to go back stage and have carte-blanche at all the shows, and sit in the front or go back stage with and beyond the paparazzi. I never liked the idea of "Art and Fashion" and thought it was an egregious notion—that fashion was timely and art should be timeless, and that in this time of the ’90’s, it seemed that some collectors would buy a painting like they would an expensive coat—and "throw it out" once it seemed the fashion had faded. In my research of the top designers, however, I realized that of course many of them were true artists—if art was about how a culture might perceive itself in order for that culture to change, the best of fashion has historically done this, and if images were about in part transporting you to other worlds and dreams, more people were able to be transported looking at the images in Vogue that would have access to Artforum. So happily I engaged in this seductive world for a few days, and found that the models moved so fast there was absolutely no way I could merely sketch them, so instead took many many pictures in which to paint them later. Ultimately, it was the genesis of something I had always wanted (and albeit had started in a minor way) to do—create paintings from my own images.

I had an epiphany looking around my studio, realizing, as a child of the "Pictures Generation" that I wasn’t the source artist of most my images—that most of them were appropriations of pre-existing material—that while hopefully I was able to put my "spin" on them and make them my own, that I didn’t have complete autonomy over the image, something I began to yearn for. Taking the images for Interview, and being a "camera bug" for many years before, I realized that perhaps I had a good eye, and for sure, I really felt a deep connection to images that came from my own camera (and were in higher definition printed then from high res images on my good Epson printer), which gave me more information to cull from.

Da Vinci and many of the Old Masters would say that if you want to do something "new," turn to Nature. Nature has elements in it that you can see afresh—I definitely believe in the old adage that you can’t make things up better than they already exist in space. Kant would discuss how his notion of Beauty was something that was able to emulate nature. Instead of painting the natural world of the circus of Fashion, post my assignment (which turned out great and was published in what turned out to be the Ingrid Sischy’s last issue), I turned to my world of nature. Andrew and I have his grandfather’s wondrous old cabin from the ’50’s in the middle of nowhere—Riverside California, in the desert, now near big box stores and trailers with retirees and crystal meth labs, where we love to retreat, but sometimes yearn for more secluded areas where you really feel the old world of California. Nearby our unincorporated town of Meadowbrook, near Lake Elsinore, off the 15 and past cul de sac suburbia’s is Tenaja, in Murrieta. It looks like Bonanza up there, with rolling meadows and natural parks of Oak trees, far from the burbs and strip malls, and more like what California must have been when people first settled there. We sometimes dream of buying land there to one day build a home, and actually extensively became obsessed with this, although not knowing how we would really afford it. This is an image of a plot of land in the middle of this nowhere, one we deemed Two Oaks (Castles in the Sky). It is on a terrace of land that you have to go up a steep, turning road, part of the property—there is no gas or electric—you would have to bring it up there—and the road is just a dirt road—which we would also have to pave to make practicable. After we were to do all this, in addition to buying the land itself, we would have to build a house. One day we would LOVE to afford to do this, but for now, and back in ’08, it is still just a dream, but I thought it would be great to literally paint our dream, and live there in my imagination, embracing the nature and all it had to offer about California and that part of nature, but also project upon it our deep romantic feelings for the place, the area (where Andrew’s family all live nearby), and our love for the land, for each other, and our future together.