Randall Stoltzfus: My name is Randall Stoltzfus. And this painting is “Transfigured”. It’s an oil painting on canvas. I don’t remember exactly but I think it took me about three years to make.
Yes, I painted all the circles by hand. And I think that’s important because the pattern that the circles make is something very special for the eye. That it resonates with your eye. Not only because our eyes are kind of like that, kind of look like that, but because of the way things are structured in the back of the eye.
When this works really well I think there’s a moment when you look slightly away from the painting and everything shimmers. A special optical effect.
I don’t necessarily choose the colors in a willful way. Because I work on the painting so long, one of the things that changes the most is the color of the painting.
In this case in particular, the painting was a very dark painting at one point in my working on it. You know, I’m trying to make a very strong light and often parts of the painting get really dark in order to make that happen. But at the end of working on this painting I got a new toy. And the new toy was a really beautiful iridescent blue. I went and painted the iridescent blue over all of the, most of the dark areas in the painting and something really magic happened. It wasn’t the kind of thing that would have happened if I had tried to make a deliberate decision. It was a good accident.
I would say that it’s not all circles, actually. Because there are other shapes that happen because of the circles and in fact when I’m making the painting I paint the other shapes too. So people ask all the time, “Do you paint all those circles by hand?” But the right answer is I paint a lot of those circles by hand and then I paint the things in between them by hand, too. None of those are circles.
And there is a point in the paintings, very often where I will spend a day painting things that are not circles, it’s very refreshing!
Yeah, that’s a really good question, that’s really important. How to answer succinctly? I’m not sure. It’s for sure that… there’s two different things. One is that that’s the way we see. We see units of something simple.
But the other thing is, I think that’s the way emotion works, too. And uh, it’s almost something I’m not allowed to talk about, right? But, I think that it’s very important that there’s something that you can identify and say that’s a circle. And that… at some point there are enough of them, something adds up, something breaks down and you feel something instead of know something. I really hope that’s what happens.
You see something that’s recognizable in there besides circles. I definitely do. And it’s a little bit like the color question that one of the things I’m doing, the reason I take so long, on the paintings is that I’m waiting for the day that I walk into the studio and I see something, that it’s almost like: “I don’t remember putting that there”. That’s when I feel like the painting is finished, almost.
Lots of patience. It takes a while. Because the eye learns very slowly. So be patient and you have to put in the hours. That, and lots of luck. Lots of luck to you!