LESPER TEPTA & THE FORTY WINKS
Somehow, this is the first piece I’ve ever done while sitting down. In a chair. When I go to the studio, I’m usually there for a minimum of six hours, and when it’s time to leave I am exhausted. It took me longer than it should have to realize that I am literally standing the whole time. Obviously, my work is normally very large so this can’t really be avoided, and I’m okay with that. Having recently been given the task to create a small painting, (and having never successfully done that before), it made sense to sit. My dog was with me, and she perched herself on to the ottoman to my right and fell asleep. I felt so lucky. For some reason, sitting there with my snoring pup, my easel, a tiny little canvas looking out my fire escape’d window I felt so incredibly lucky. I’ve never been shy about my gratitude for the studio, my desire to have my own little industrial-paint chipped, bug-infested dream has finally come to fruition. I made that happen. All by myself.
By now you have met Lesper Tepta & The Forty Winks. I was packing this painting up to ship to Vermont the other day when I started to really, really miss it. There’s always a little bittersweet moment when I send a painting off obviously, but this felt a little different. I started to think about other paintings I’ve parted with and my relationship with my work in general. Some paintings of mine hang on my walls for months. Some, years. Sometimes I can tell that immediately when I love a piece I’ve done and other times the piece hangs in front of my face for months and I don’t think twice about it. Then it’s time for it to go to its new home, and I start to look at differently, realizing I will never see it again. I will never see it again. A part of me thinks I may do this as a defence mechanism; a way to avoid the deep miss when they are gone for good. I’m happy that they are out there being enjoyed and they are hanging in someone’s home who wants to show it off, but it always hurts a little bit, at least.
I’ve struggled incessantly to discuss what drives me as a painter, what my intent is (if I even have one), if I’ve mapped anything out. Usually all of that comes to light when I realize a painting is done, but it’s often almost like a dream that you don’t remember once you’re awake. A dot in your brain that quickly drifts away. I was alone with my dog when I painted this, perched in front of my easel. I continuously flipped the canvas (as I often do), barely stepping back to look at its whole. A real Guston moment (since I’ve quietly considered that to be something great). I heard’s Cat’s Catch Bull At Four, Jr. Delahaye’s Reggae (more than twice), Neil’s Harvest Moon, and Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. I shocked myself when I realized I didn’t once tune into Joanna’s Good Intentions Paving Company (it really was that easy). For once, I knew exactly what I wanted in this piece, and usually that’s a sign to go the other way. Somehow, that wasn’t the case with this one and I loved it the second it was finished. I even knew the second it was finished. On top of it being “easy” it was also a commission, and I literally never find commissions easy, even if they tell me I can do whatever I want. I had an old painting that I needed to use the canvas for to make a jewelry commission, so I kept the frame and re-stretched some new canvas onto it, primed it, and couldn’t wait to get started. I feel so (understandably) connected to pieces that I stretch myself before a drop of paint even hits the canvas, and completing this piece got me excited to create a series of small paintings. I’ve always thought that painting big was my thing, that I had nothing to offer a small canvas, but this piece changed my mind. I examined it the other night. Touched it’s marks, memorized its feeling, inspected its gradually changing scheme. What put that there? It seems so calculated. I’ve constantly been told my work is geometrical, which I find amusing because I was (am) the worst at math.
Ultimately, when I look at this piece I actually feel joy, and I think that’s more than befitting of it’s place.
Bye, Lesper. I’ll miss you.