Tennis ball colored T-shirt on a hard object, Oil on Canvas on Wood, 16 X 12 in, 2013



Kevin Frances: Will you tell me a bit about your working process? How do you choose your materials/subject matter? Are you working towards a goal?

Hilary Doyle: I choose to paint subjects in the real world that I see constantly. I get ideas from my morning routine, commute, walks, rest and more recently observing others.

I experiment a lot with oil and acrylic paint to learn exciting ways to replicate the physical texture of a surface- i.e. the smoothness of a tile or sheen of a towel. I also make little studies and hang them on the wall so I can see how the colors and narrative of the paintings function as a whole. My goal is to bring ideas to life and to paint in a way I have not seen before.

KF: You've spoken before about wanting your work to end up somewhere surprising, to be something uncanny. Is this still one of your goals? If so, how do you achieve this in the studio?

HD: The uncanny comes from this idea of familiar objects looking like people and also people looking like objects. I try to pay attention to when I feel something is funny in an uncanny way in life and to work from there and also try to find inspirational images of this happening. More recently I have been thinking about the uncanny in the latter way- trying to paint people as though they are objects (frozen in the paint and their position) and thinking about the uncanny valley as seen in very real looking CGI.

Towel Folded, Oil and acrylic on canvas and wood, 12 X 14 inches, 2014

KF: Do you think anthropomorphism plays a role in your work?

HD: Anthropomorphism is something I am interested in for a depth of psychology. Psychology has always been important to me I think because my father was a psychotherapist when I was growing up. According to Freud's definition of the uncanny when you see a object with human characteristics it reminds you on some level you that you too are an object. This is at once a disturbing reminder of death that is followed by the cathartic reaction of humor that such a dumb/ familiar object like a towel or painting might have the power to bring you to these thoughts. There is a slippage where painting or sculpture can make an object seem even more anthropomorphic than the 'real' object which interests me.

KF: Can you talk more about that last point? How can the painting seem more anthropomorphic than the real object?

HD: The painted object does not follow laws of gravity that the "real" towel does and appears to flop and "stand up" at the same time which gives the art object a quality of aliveness. The gooeyness of the paint gives the material a food-like almost pretend playdoughness that I think also makes the object ever so slightly a caricature of the real. I often think about the food fight scene in the movie "Hook" where the "real food" miraculously appears but seems like it could actually be paint.

Hilary Doyle Painting Process 2015

1. Make a painting of something you've seen in the real world.

2. Paint it, if you can’t stop thinking about painting it.

3. Collect information from observation, mental notes and video. Avoid photographs. 

4. Discover new modes for representation. Discover collisions of new surfaces and marks using experimentation and studies. Make a different mark for everything in the world. 

5. Stay open to accidents. Do not fully plan the painting in advance. Figure out what the painting will be while you're making it, from the process.  

6. Error + awkwardness = humanity. 

7. Try to surprise yourself and try to surprise others.

8. Pay attention to poetry, metaphor, and paradoxes.

9. The real purpose of painting, is to give pleasure" -Robert Ryman  

What is our experience of the "real" world now that we spend an increasing amount of time on electronic devices? I'll be riding a train seeing the most amazing thing out the window and will look around to see if anybody saw it too, and they are all plugged in on their iPhones and computers and it seems a little scary to me. I hope the paintings help people to enjoy looking at the real world with a new sense of vividness and curiosity.