I Paint to See What Happens When I Paint
To paraphrase--a photographer once commented that he made photographs to see how things looked as photographs. Ive always loved the simplicity and grandeur of that statement, and in a sense I believe much of what I do is in a similar vein. Its also meant to poke fun at critics who often suggest I should find a niche and stay there. Ive always been a wanderer. From my creative beginnings with a camera forty years ago to my explorations with paint over the past decade, I have continued to wander.
For years I have made photographic images of the land. Reflecting on the impact of making those landscape images--being fascinated by the land and all that it suggestshas had a profound influence on my creative subconscious. How I see the land is present or suggested in many of the paintings I make, but often, in less obvious ways. I dont label my work as landscape, but being influenced as I am by the intersection of land and sky, the ocean horizon and particular places within the landscape, its difficult to escape the connection. But also, I use landscape as a metaphor for something beyond the physical placeIm interested in the health of the earth as well as our human interaction with the land.
My photographic tendencies go beyond making images with a camera to the very core of how I see. And much like the contact sheet in photography (usually several images together on a single page), I am drawn to objects within a painting that invite comparisonthe act of examining and evaluating these undefined elements while seeking some sort of illuminationthe process of going back and forth, of finding resolution.
Trying to understand these elements--to connect them visually with something intellectual--is what I find compelling. Im dyslexic and often I struggle to comprehend while readingmy brain continues to move back and forth between potential interpretations--and I can find it very difficult to assign a specific meaning to the words.
Im drawn to and fascinated by the horizon and sky, and often the relationship between the two. As an element of design, I love the simplicity of the horizon, especially over the ocean. In turn, that glorious line drawn through the sky encourages my own metaphorical considerations of what that distant horizon offersthe endless possibility of what lies just beyond. Whether tangible or not, Im drawn to that place where I can exercise my thoughts and imagination with clarity, and without the difficulty of comprehension I experience in more chaotic circumstances.
HOW I WORK
Being dyslexic I work through my ideas visually, which makes more sense to me. The paintings I create are a reflection of my process of exploration including the photographs I make, my reading, and a somewhat romantic notion of history and geography.
So in away, Im after my own visual language. What I use as symbols or participants in my paintings arent meant to confuse the viewer, but rather this is how I need to work. My struggle is to simply let go of the limitations I place on myself and trust my intuitive response. Whether I have given the viewer recognizable objects or not, I prefer to perpetuate some ambiguity in my painting. And I paint to learn. I do have a creative and academic background, but ultimately, what Im interested in are the challenges I uncover while making abstract paintings.
It makes sense that when the viewer is in front of a painting with an unknown subject, that the first points of discussion are related to the process. This is fine with me--the process is the reflection of my interaction with the paintinghowever, I encourage viewers to use their own experiences and imagination to disembark on their own journey using the painting as a springboard. So, while the evidence of the process remains and may appear more prominent than the thinking behind the work, I encourage a more cerebral investigation, having less to do with my intentions, and more to do with the viewers thoughts relative to the painting.
Optimistically, I want my art to encourage an open-minded response. And while I hope it possible to inspire deeper thought and contemplation, Im also a big fan of being playful.
If a viewer is uncomfortable with abstract work or has never been given an invitation to really view it, then this is my invitation. Bring what you think and feel, but dont be too concerned with defining and resolving the content. I think of abstract paintings as being more like poetryreceive it viscerally first, then let the mind seek a more intellectual explanation.
My paintings are intended to pose questions rather than provide answers. Im interested in stimulating thought and asking questions more than pretending to have answers. I find humility a wonderful asset both in the making of art and in discussing it. Written on my easel wall in the studio are the words I dont get it, and often I dont. Im fond of trying new ways of working and as I continue to wander different creative paths, its simply my way of trying to get it.
A BIOGRAPHY OF SORTS
When I was thirteen, my Mom received a Polaroid camera as a gift. She wasnt particularly thrilled with it, so I made off with the folding box pretending it some sort of imaginary space device: I hadnt anticipated the lure of the pictures.
I have made photographs for forty years now. During that span Ive worked with most film formats, including digital photography for the past ten years. My interests include: collage, mixed media, video and performance art in addition to painting.
Im a graduate of the University of Washington (BA) and the University of Oregon (MFA).
I was an assistant professor of photography and visual design (adjunct) at the University of Oregon (1993-2000),
Willamette University (2000-2001) and Western Oregon University (2001).
In 1995, I was awarded an artist residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York,
where painting became my preferred way of working. I have painted full-time since then.
If you have a particular request, I am happy to field questions regarding commission works.