Painting & Design

As an artist and art teacher with formal training, I pay attention to the traditions and history or art. But one of the most important traditions is that art ultimately is a vast and on-going conversation of the human experience, and as artists, we carry that conversation forward with our work. So I think that painting is journey into something new that comes from within. Then when it is shared, it becomes part of this wider view of how we see our world and our lives.

It is also a balance of the aesthetic and the technical. An artist has to have both the unique visual/contextual ideas AND the technical skill to present the idea effectively. So if an artist has a creative idea and no technique, the image never materializes effectively. With only the technique, the ceativity of the image never materializes and the work is a mere copy so someone else’s idea. As Joseph Cambell said, “If the path is clear, it’s probably some one else’s path.”

I have tried to repond to the places I have painted in three main ways.

I try to capture the structure of the geology of a place. To a landsape painter this is like the challenge of capturing the structure of someone’s face; it reveils an on-going story of what the place has been through. The uplifted granite walls of the High Sierra, or the deep cut made by the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon – these geological events created these places, and leave their mark, like lines on a face.

The sky and clouds create an atmospere that can evokes a regional quality to the image. This quality of atmospere often evokes an emotional repsonse in the traveler who sees the place. So I try to capture that in my images.

And finally I try to evoke a sense of the light in a place. My painting trip down the Grand Canyon with master painter Perter Nesbit in 1999 really instilled in me the importance of this sense of light in a landscape. The theme of the trip was “Going for the Light” and the time of year was the early October in the equinox light of fall: after the high, flat summer sun and before the long cold shaddowy winter light set in. I learned to work quickly to capture the fast-changing light of the canyon and sky above us, as we had rather short painting periods for work. The challenging conditions taught me to commit to the essential image I was after, and paint it with conviction and purpose, than and now. I believe it is these kinds of challenges that develop us as artists.

Working in the field or in the studio I think should be a process that requires re-thinking and adjusting as we go, so the piece evolves from the initial idea to the sketch, to the blocked-in painting to the finished work. Often, the starting idea morphs into something completely different in the finished piece. We explore our own art-conversation within us as we develop any one particular piece. That’s the beauty in it – the path and the journey.

This latest work (in the Paintings section of this site) focuses on the sky and cloud part of this triad. I’ve been coming to the Caribbean for years and have always loved the fast-moving skyscapes, with their multi-layered cloud formations. This series uses extremely wide views, done from sketches and panorama photos, of dramatic Caribbean cloudscapes to explore the wave-like nature of the weather that rolls over the region. By photographing in high, “big-sky” viewing places, and capturing views that include almost 180 degree views, the wave patterns of the clouds become more defined and clear. The light and atmosphere of these cloudscapes is also an important element, and adds to the emotional quality of the work.