Sea Scape Collaboration

As a visual artist, I have said more than once that I harbor some jealousy towards musicians and bands. A huge part of music is based in collaboration. It tends to be extremely social; playing for an audience is charismatic and lively. On the face of it music seems fun, interactive, and spontaneous.

What we don’t see in a great band on stage is the previous debate about… everything! What the right chords are and if the lyrics work. I imagine the creative process involves a lot of soothing of people’s egos. Melding multiple visions into one cohesive product that everyone feels part of is work!

At it’s best, collaborations forms bonds and combining talents creates something individuals could not have attained alone. At its worst, collab is unfulfilling, isolatory and can fast break friendships.

My experience with painting is that it can be meditative or frustrating, but above all, it is an act that I engage in alone. It is a quiet time for my ideas to coalesce.  In art production, I don’t work well with others. I’ve drawn my life where, when I am at work in a bar or restaurant, I use that activity to give of myself; I am extremely social and goofy, and im part of the team; when I am home painting I am focused and reflective.

This is my round about way of saying that I suck at collaboration painting wise. Most of the time, I dread being contacted for commission projects.

But every once in a while I get into a great collaboratory relationship. Last fall had an exceptional experience with my girl Emma Stanton, who is a NYC based playwright /actor/director amazing lady! PS check out the Circle Machine, at Oracle Theater, a joint adaptation by Emma, Nigel O’Hearn and Thom Pasculli, running until March 14th in Chicago.

Emma has amazing visual language. This is to be expected from a budding theater-writer-person star . So, when she came to me with an idea to craft a project for her special someone, I was tentative, but curious. After talking with Emma however, a project that was supposed to culminate into 1 painting, ended up as a series. It became a visual land map of objects that elicit a feeling of home, comfort, nostalgia and love. The project explores objects that symbolize a person, and a relationship.

The reason Emma and I worked so well together is that she is an expert in communicating ideas and feelings. She thinks metaphorically, and supplied me with expressive phrases and photographs. This, I can work with. The project that culminated in a gift to her boyfriend is visual poetry. I love the delicacy of the ink, and the simple arrangements and color schemes.



Emma listed barnacles as particularly meaningful, referencing the parasitic nature of barnacles and whales. Strange, yes, but also kinda romantic!


I think this is my fav in the series. The off beat symmetry is what does it for me.

An example of text she sent me:

‘A perfect day for him would be wading in the ocean, sometimes walking, sometimes just standing. Perhaps he would be eating parisian bread or a mexican popsicle.’


I used seashells I found in France as models


The best art is honest and Emma was able to be honest about her relationship with me. I enjoyed painting and thinking about what the project meant, and I hope to work with her again! Hope you enjoy what we came up with together!




2 Comments on “Sea Scape Collaboration

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