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Michael Sheets

Recording the effects of light is the essential aim and unifying theme of my work. The creation of visual illusions sometimes called mimesis as well as an awareness of a painting as an abstract, formalist construct round out my major concerns. Although I paint a varied group of subjects, a "tight" realism is typical of all my work. I feel that an interest in subject and narrative elements does not preclude concurrent attention to the abstract aspects inherent in composition in a two-dimensional picture plane.

The paintings are built from multiple layers of thinned oil paints applied to medium texture cotton canvas. I generally begin with a toned ground and establish highlight and shadow areas before applying color. This roughly approximates the traditional technique known as "imprimatura".

I make few drawings in preparation for my paintings. Generally I shoot many photographs of subjects I am considering for paintings. These photo serve as my references during the process of translating an idea to canvas. Rather than a single photo, most paintings draw from multiple source photographs. Often these are composited on the computer. I modify the color and lighting freely but do rely on the photo for information on textures and fine details.

To summarize, while aware of formalist aspects involved in the design of a painting, I do not feel such awareness precludes the use of narrative elements. I believe that paintings at their best should be complex, multi-layered constructions that do not reveal all their secrets at first glance.