I reached a point in my career when everything I’d done and everything I thought about myself and painting seemed tired. I was sick of thinking about painting – the marks brushes make and all the hullabaloo about medium. I made pictures… bottom line. I decided I needed to either walk away from my life as a creative artist and become a lawyer or I had to rid my life and work of everything extraneous that other painters rave about and start over again.
I became a landscape painter, in part because I never was before. For the first ten years of my career as an artist (and a dedicated realist from the start) I avoided landscape painting like a five year old avoids a bath. I always perceived landscape painting as being tied to notions of romance, nostalgia and, in particular, beauty. I never understood any of these notions. To me, the landscape was barren, imposing, completely indifferent to anything human and, above all, it was savage.
At the same time, I also saw landscape as a stage for everything we understood the world to be – a kind of universal context for everything in life. Anyone who saw a landscape painting, no matter their culture or life experience, could immediately identify.
I finally decided that if I were to be a landscape painter, all of my feelings about painting and everything I felt about the landscape needed to pass through me and into my work in a way that was completely new.
I promptly disposed of my brushes and thought about what I would paint and how I would create it without brushes. I decided to paint a vast expanse of grass and so I created a tool to accomplish this – a “comb”, made of sixty or seventy invidual hairs lined up from end to end and attached to a thin strip of wood.
I mixed some color, spread it thin on my palate and grazed through the pigment with the comb. I then tapped the tiny hairs over a toned panel again and again. What was left was a series of marks which resemble individual blades of grass. I repeated the process again but with another color and repeated the process again and again, weaving the marks and colors until, in the end, there are tens of millions of individual blades of grass covering the surface of the painting.
Now I understand that this technique really isn’t painting at all. It is, if anything, nothing more than a chant – me sitting on the floor like a monk, mindlessly tapping a landscape and an entire world into existence.
– Francis Gregory Di Fronzo