What was your inspiration [for The Scapegoat]?
This image began as a traditional self-portrait —no horns, no pink; just a self-portrait. Most of the surreal developments were spontaneous. Some developments were entheogenically inspired and some were based solely on my aesthetic interests at the time. Those interests included the paintings of Michael Hussar, whose skill in the application of paint, composition, lighting, and color theory has consistently inspired me. Skill aside, Hussar’s subject matter tends to be macabre and consequently many elements of this painting took on a dark tone as well. If you compare this piece, “The Scapegoat”, to a more recent painting, “The Peak“, a stark difference in tone is evident. For “The Peak”, I gleaned inspiration primarily from romanticist painters and arrived at a much more balanced and positive image. Each of my paintings are a snapshot of my condition at a given period in life including current influences, interests, and more. Therefore, each painting ends up looking very different from the last. I don’t think I’ll ever be an artist who creates 10 or 20 paintings that are of the same subject, same style, etc. because as I grow, change, and mature, the paintings, which are self-expressions, reflect these new states and processes. “The Scapegoat” depicts indulgence in a variety of sensational symbols, idolatry, and vanity. The cut in the flesh of the upper cheek reminds me that I narrowly evaded the destruction that those life-draining gratifications inevitably lead to. My unofficial title for this painting is “Aaron in Hell”. In the future, I hope to do another self-portrait to go along with this one, but instead of Hell, it will be “Aaron in Heaven” essentially.