I never cared for the set-up still-life. The idea of choosing objects and arranging them on a table to illustrate or allude to some theme or significance always felt like homework. What I’ve always enjoyed is finding order and form in piles of things left after use in everyday life. The cluttered desk or the dining room table with dirty dishes.

I’ve made pictures of improvised domestic scenes since the 1980s but the first piece in this book is circa 1991 or 1992. It’s a large charcoal drawing of my kitchen in Logan Square. I’d recently seen a Velazquez painting featuring a colander and similar kind of light coming in from an unseen side window. The bend in the countertop was made to account for my shifting perspective as my eyes moved from the kettle on the stove to the Palmolive bottle on the counter to the sink and doing rack, ending in the pantry with the hanging pan on the wall. I was going for a cinematic effect, a thing I would return to from time to time. I wanted to account for the passage of time. To make a single image contain and remind the viewer of many different moments.

The painting of a soup bowl and spoon left on a dining room table clearly shows Bonnard’s influence but filtered through Fairfield Porter. I was living through what amounted to a first marriage in my art school days so there were many homely scenes portrayed in my work.

In contrast, the ashtray full of cigarette butts spelled the end of my domestic bliss. My soon-to-be ex hated smoking.

Paintings of paintings have often appeared in my work. In a succession of apartments starting back when I lived with my parents, a portion of wall was devoted to art clipped from magazines and postcards. The Wall of Fame oil, painted circa 1997 when I moved back to Chicago for good, is my most direct tribute to these collections of images from the past. Here the old pictures compete with the pile of crap on a studio table. I’ve always functioned best in an organized mess. As much of a garbage pile as it looks like, I could reach into there and find whatever I was looking for more often than not.

I’ve returned to cups, tubes, and other receptacles in and around sinks over and over as a motif. It’s a setting of daily action that anyone who’s lived with indoor plumbing will recognize. There’s an implied action and a reminder of the passage of time whenever water is involved. Even when there’s no actual water present. Kitchens and bathrooms are places where repeated daily rituals leave a patina. I don’t have to pose a person at a stove or sink to get a viewer to imagine themselves into what I’ve painted. All I have to do is portray a rack of knives or a cup holding a toothbrush next to a spigot more or less accurately to make the picture something anyone can see as something they know for themselves.

I read a long list from Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual into a microphone.