The majority of my work is made on location and emphasizes direct observation, whether indoors or outdoors. Formats vary from multi-panel pieces to large single-panel canvases, stand-alone works to series, in sizes from 4" x 6" to as large as 120" on a side. I scrape and push paint with silicone spatulas and big brushes and sometimes my fingers.
Paint interests me first on a visceral level; unto itself it is such a satisfying, adaptable, enjoyable material. Yet when arranged deliberately in certain rhythms of form and color, it also becomes a remarkable tool for helping us find this world anew – for leading us into new perceptual terrain; stimulating memories and hopes and inspiration; being a vessel for learning and feeling.
THOUGHTS ON the PROCESS
When painting I'm brought back to simplicities, back to my senses, and in a way, back to life. To surrender scripted plans and just listen and look, not knowing what will come, is a trust-fall of sorts and an act of devotion. On the good days this practice dissolves the excess in my psyche and leaves me clearer in mind and heart. It’s something I believe can translate to others through a finished work.
In a time filled with so much that can leave us far from the subtle pulse of a day, acts of simplification – for me, painting – seem like time well spent. My hope is that by listening when something luminous calls, by partaking in the alchemy of painting and surrendering to an unknowable outcome, something inspiring will develop and eventually touch someone else's heart.
Being an artist who lives to paint this world and its natural environment leaves me feeling a sense of reciprocity towards all that inspires my work. So, in addition to choosing the highest quality materials, wherever possible I also prefer those that are socially responsible and environmentally friendly. Examples include walnut oil paints made with renewable energy by a family-owned Oregonian company and Texas-made painting surfaces comprised of Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood materials.
The masters, of course, are ever-present in my artistic life. Van Gogh, Monet, Bonnard; Richter, Rothko, Hockney; Matisse, Manet, Degas, Pollock, and Chuck Close; Keiko Moti, Andrew Wyeth, especially his wild watercolors and his figure work, and Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. Also those who lived where I now live: Georgia O'keeffe, Agnes Martin, and the many Taos painters from the earliest arrivals to the transcendentalists and modernists. They've all opened my eyes and deepened my appreciation of this world.
In terms of people I’ve known personally: My early inspirations came from two excellent teachers with whom I studied while at Bard College – objective artist Joseph Santore and non-objective artist Laura Battle. Among many things, they instilled in me a love and respect for the importance of committed observation and dedication to one’s craft. More recently, I met a somewhat different breed of artist in the Southwest, people painting on-location in the elements. They were expressing the intensity of their relationship to the land, loved paint, and largely were committed to direct observation. Louisa McElwain (1953 - 2013) and Walt Gonske are among the landscape artists who here have most impacted me, as well as figure painter Jack Richard Smith, and painter, writer, and friend Pierre Delattre. Their willingness to chat, insights, and occasional advise have been profoundly affecting, and planted the seeds that inspired me to get out into the landscape, to try new tools, and to tackle bigger challenges.
Most recently, I’ve been finding inspiration in the landscape-derived abstract works of Forrest Moses, several realist painters who incorporate photos into their process, and the photography of Edward Burtynsky and Alex Maclean, amongst others – as well as the field of cultural landscape studies and a variety of artists working in three-dimensions and ephemera. These threads are relatively fresh developments in my creative process, but they seem to simultaneously be taking me further into abstraction and into new-to-me approaches to objective painting, mixed-media, and more.