Artist Statement:

Patrick Semple

These two pieces, “Moonbeam Mirror Light,” and “Deep Sleep” are from a series I’ve been working on, using oil pastel on newspaper. Initially, I was bored in the kitchen one morning so I grabbed this print of The Stranger and went to town on someone’s face with pastel; it has since become my favorite kind of drawing paper. It’s 15 inches wide by 22¾ long dimensions are hauntingly close to an averagely proportioned human face—coincidence? I made the jump from modifying existing faces to creating my own portraits over them, using advertisements and typography as templates for a face; e.g. a list of concerts as eyeshadow, or an erotic French maid as a high-cheek bone.

Since these are oil drawings, the original contents of the pages get mostly covered up; though a faint, extra dimension of letters and opinions linger beneath as shadows, providing an interesting challenge to fit a portrait. Who needs an artist sketchpad when there are little canvases everywhere at our feet, at our disposal? There’s something transcendent and oddly pleasurable about drawing on someone’s face; I highly recommend doing so if you haven’t already. I grew up in a household of brothers, so we became artists early on in this sense.

Drawing people’s portraits has always been one of my favorite things. Our faces are so telling of the spiritual condition; they are living, breathing stories with one-of-a-kind wisdom, embodying every tear jerking, hard earned moment that each one of us has survived into the present. Lately I’ve been doing portraits of friends, housemates, or faces that I’m drawn to. When making “Moonbeam Mirror Light,” I contemplated the eternal, ancient power of a gaze, and our natural inclination to want to mirror the feelings of others via body language.

Part of the intention behind these pieces is to show how meditation and true rest are a perfect prescription for the effects of over-saturated media exposure, and addiction to technology. The information on the newsprint is being fully over-taken by looks of contemplation and deep sleep, meant to counteract all of the media we take in daily with our eyes and minds. Throughout my life, I’ve always reverted back to the practice of art and meditation as a means of turning inward and pressing the spiritual “reset button;” keeping things surprising, somatic and shamanic when creating art. It is plain to see the isolating effects of what media and technology do to our collective spirit—they ARE useful in bridging the distances between us, but things like meditation, art and ritual are helpful and important reminders that there is no distance.