Some people think home is supposed to be a safe place, that domestic life is mundane. I like to look at the pieces of that life, separated and inspected and transformed. Robert Gober will take a kitchen sink and half bury it in the ground, and it will look like a man’s chest or a gravestone. I love that. Or Rosemary Trockel will, by knitting an image into a ski mask, elevate an apparently mundane craft and give it some universal significance. I think it would be interesting to paint a picture of some knitted object for that reason. Claes Oldenburg took away the usefulness of a clothespin by making it a tower. He makes it kind of absurd to think it’s still a clothespin, but what else do you call it?

When I make a painting or a drawing I have to start somewhere. My idea of a cup or your idea of a child isn’t really important in the end, although it’s always where I start. The little girl is obviously someone specific, and getting her likeness right is pretty important to me, but what really matters is what the picture holds on its own, that there is some movement. To me the image has qualities that are usually categorized as adult: disheveled, unmanicured, a little burnt-out. If a kid’s sucker actually reminds you of a woman’s nipple or a liquid drop, then it has that motion I want.

I’ll use saturated color to shift something from its normal context, and I’ll isolate it. Hockney did that. His colors are gorgeous, and he’ll put his subjects deadpan, right there in the center of the picture to say, “Here they are.” Nothing tricky.

I grew up in the white-bread suburbs of the east coast in the 70’s and 80's. I was craving something, a different color, a different light. And then on a trip to Arizona I got to see that southwest light, the orange sun on the sidewalk, the big blue skies, the crazy house colors. The following year I went to Chile to visit family. There were saturated colors everywhere and in everything, the clothing, the pictures they hung on their walls, the houses and furniture. I finally understood what color could be when you give it permission. They didn’t do that in Maryland.