Jerry McLaughlin’s work explores the relationship between darkness and beauty. He has always been drawn to what many consider grim: somber music, bleak writing, and the shadowy spaces of the human heart and mind. He believes creating something that is beautiful but darkly evocative is deeply satisfying.
Poetry has been essential to his painting. Finding moods and sensitivities in words helps him understand how to do that in painting. The work of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Constantine Cavafy, and Federico Garcia Lorca has been especially influential.
His work always uses neutral monochromatic color, with a focus on texture, value, and shape. Despite the deeply emotional sources for his work, formal exploration of these elements is also important to him. Since moving to Mexico, more light value has emerged in his paintings, and he has incorporated more primitive shapes. The artist also included more structural line, and his textures have become more subtle. This combination of formal exploration with emotional expression is not unlike poetry—poets often choose formal structures like sonnets or haiku, limiting the number of syllables and lines or perhaps requiring a particular rhyme or meter. He thinks these kinds of limits help push our creative expression.
The artist builds his abstract paintings using oil paint, pigments, and wood ash. A soft beeswax paste holds everything together. He chooses his materials for the tactile experience he gets working with them and for the textures and surfaces they allow him to create.