After leaving the northern forests and farmland of Saskatchewan, I traveled to Calgary to attend the Alberta College of Art. After 4 years of hard work I came out confused and somewhat lost. Like many of my newly graduated peers, I had one pressing question in my mind, “Now what?”
My life has taken many twists and turns and my inspiration has come from surprising sources over the years. I’ve been a bouncer (1 week), I’ve been a radio switcher (1 night), I worked at the CBC (1 month), I was a stunt man (2 action movies that I’ve never seen). I’ve built countless houses, packed endless groceries, cut infinite blades of grass. I’ve written children’s books (4), I’ve illustrated children’s books (19), I’ve painted everything from diapers to strawberries; toilet paper to whiskey. I have been lucky enough to work as an illustrator, a writer, a designer and finally, a painter. I have lived a blessed life with friends and lovers always at my side. I have never gone hungry or without shelter and have never been left wanting for those things I truly needed. Above all things, I was given a passion to create that has never left me, never wavered. I have never been bored. My biggest frustration in my life is that there is never enough time in a day to do all I imagine and desire.
My practice continues to evolve. I work in a variety of mediums including watercolour, graphite, and acrylics but primarily in oil. Oil paint is a living medium. The lengthy drying time allows for oil to evolve with the piece. It lets me form textures and mimic light in a way that adds a sense of movement and life to the most mundane scenes. Simultaneously, it allows for complete control in my current series of hyperrealistic still life paintings.
Hyperrealism is a form of ‘realism’ akin to ‘photorealism’ however, while I use photographs as reference, I remove as much evidence of them as I can. Where a photorealist would illustrate the depths of focus, I would not. Human eyes focus so quickly on detail that we are rarely aware of the blurred details in our peripherals. Hyperrealism attempts to mimic the way we actually see with complete focus and great detail. I use hyper realistic painting techniques to the arrest of the viewer to give them time to start a conversation with the work. I explore the image as a form of communication between myself, the viewer and the content of the work.
I consider a painting to be successful if it meshes with the life of the viewer over time. If the painting can tell a story about the viewer as relates to them then I know it will live on. I look at the title of the painting as the first line of a story. With in these words must be the first footsteps in to a new world. The more arresting the piece the more one can identify the underlying story infused into the paint and the content. My paintings don’t hang on the wall assaulting its viewers with a chosen narrative and a strict point of view.
My paintings whisper ‘Here hangs a story for you to read.’
Finally and most importantly, my work is time dependent. The more time I give to it, the more it evolves. That in itself is not a revelation, however if you consider how short our time is here on earth, it becomes paramount. How is it possible to justify such indulgent madness in the face of certain finality?
For me, painting is my personal revolution, the ultimate ‘I was here’ scratched on a bathroom stall. Richard A Jacobson