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Most every painting begins with absent minded pencil doodles. The surrealists called it automatic drawing, I called it purposeful doodling. Because I allow my sub-conscious to direct me, rather than planning out the composition based around an initial idea. Because of this approach, the meaning behind the pieces are hidden from me. These unplanned drawings are enlarged and developed into color studies. Creating a study gives me more confidence as I work on the final piece. The final pieces are either painted with acrylic on canvas or painted on wood that I cut out with a jigsaw. I like the fact that removing the background makes the piece less of a painting and more of an object, like a wall sculpture. As I progress, I make conscious color or design decisions, while remaining true to the initial impulse in the doodle.

While Pop-Surrealism is a genre that is still being defined, I use that term when I describe what I create to others. In that group I may be closer to Tim Biskup, Camille Rose Garcia or Mike Giant than Mark Ryden, who is considered the poster boy of the movement. Through automatic drawing, I channel stuff from my subconscious like comic book imagery, logos, typography and block printing. I am going for a surrealist approach with a pop art sensibility. I also see my work springing out of the influences of Elizabeth Murray and Joan Miro.

I choose to create imagery that is both intimate and universal. One may identify with objects they recognize as coming from reality but they are combined in a dream-like world creating new associations. I don’t want to define for the viewer what it is that they are looking at exactly. I want the viewer’s imagination to be engaged to draw their own conclusions about what it is that they are seeing. When I paint on canvas, I diminish the boundary of the rectangle by not allowing the imagery to be cut off by the picture plane or to allow the characters to be defined by that space. With cut outs, I achieve a hybrid painting/wall sculpture by removing the background altogether. A goal is to create more work that has multiple pieces that relate to one another that are always displayed in the same configuration, inspired by installation art.


William went to college to be a graphic designer and illustrator and worked in that field for about a decade, mostly for a toy company in a Chicago suburb. In 1996, he established a studio artist at the center which he maintains on the 3rd floor of the building. William lives in Peoria and has served the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria as Executive Director since 2003.

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