Royden Watson
We frequently take the objects and circumstances encountered daily for granted. Without a certain distance, it is difficult to assess their uniqueness, or relationship to history.

One of my studio aims has been to create highly representational painted "portraits" of the prosaic objects that we so often overlook. Though it has never been easier to obtain information, our ability to understand context and discern relationships has been as equally challenged. I employ traditional representational painting techniques to address contemporary issues of knowing, seeing, and valuing direct experiences. By repeatedly painting “portraits” of several pieces of standard plywood, I provide a background or support that can be easily dismissed. Because of plywood’s role in home building, it is ubiquitous. It is chosen because it is an essential component of the “American Dream”.

I use traditional oil painting techniques as a device to shift the experience of passively looking to one of actively engaging. The foreground is painted and ordered so that one must “read” the information and material differently than one would “look” at the painted wood background, emphasizing the relationship of the figure to its ground. Some foregrounds are paintings of tape and are arranged into hexagons and triangles to highlight a surface that is, becoming schematic rather than figurative. Other foregrounds employ elements like circles, which may accumulate and veil the nature of the painted support or brightly lure one’s attention away from the majority of the image.

I intentionally leave traces of the process of painting as evidence of their origins and to emphasize their role as created/manufactured images. However, because the actual objects that I reference are so integrated in our everyday lives, my representational portraits are frequently viewed as Duchamp like ready-mades. Though the casual viewer might easily consume these works as ordinary objects, the active viewer is rewarded with a surprising realization.