by Rachel Stephens
The conversation begins with popping a Tecate and turning on an Elvis record. It’s to be a long conversation, one with dark turns and pleasant surprises and an unknown end. A sometimes- painful conversation that aches until the next one begins.
Patrick opens his sketchbook, gridding out the figure in his head. Many pages later, he is ready to take the desired dimensions to stretchers and a canvas. Hard black lines scratch an outline. The figure’s eyes are dark and almost scowling. The posture is defensive and de ant against the artist’s gaze. It’s to be a stubborn exchange.
This is how it goes in Patrick Puckett’s studio after hours. Returning home from his day job to finally have the conversation that has been circling in his head all day long. Some may think it’s stereotypical, the “tortured artist.” But it’s true. You have to paint, but sometimes the painting hates you.
This struggle might not be evident on the gallery walls, but it’s there under the dozens and sometimes hundreds of layers of paint. In looking at the progression of Patrick’s paintings, you can see they start in a much darker place and painstakingly work their way towards the light– literally and conceptually. Patrick coaxes the menacing figures to soften up a bit with every layer. Scowls turn into questioning stares. Deep blacks and purples are replaced with soft reds, oranges and yellows. Scenes seeming to exist amongst dark shadows now exist on bright beaches. Blocks of clothing that before appeared to act as shields are playfully sprinkled with pattern. It’s as if Patrick has put his demons on the page and talked them into the sun for a beer.
It’s this back and forth that gives the work its depth. If one really looks, you can see the time pass on the canvas— the life of this figure born there. You can feel their ups and downs and the energy it took to get them to this place.
But Patrick won’t easily admit to this struggle. For him, it is a natural part of the process not unlike the bruises of a boxer.
“Painting is a tough sport…(but) I don’t want to give the impression that I’m liable to cut my ear off at any moment because I burned the risotto…I’m more baseball cap and margarita than beret and absinthe.”
Well, we’ll give him that. But we think there might be just a hint of absinthe in that margarita.