Raised in a household filled with art, I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. My father was a fine artist and commercial illustrator and my earliest memories are watching him work and asking questions. He often asked for my advice, seemed to take whatever I had to say seriously and urged me to explore my own artistic interests, however, he quite effectively discouraged me from pursuing art as a career. I, therefore, majored in psychology and art history in college and worked for many years as an elementary school teacher but I never stopped drawing and painting. Eventually, I returned to school to study art and received a BFA from the University of Wisconsin in 1984.
I find there are many creative similarities in making art and in teaching; both require constant experimentation, evaluation and revision. To me the concentrated stillness of making and manipulating marks on a page or canvas is a form of meditation. Sometimes, my work is pure abstraction; more often it is representational. Always, however, my paintings are paintings of light and atmosphere. I strive to capture the ephemeral nature of light that conveys a mood that is timeless. I want to create exciting, thought provoking visual metaphors that celebrate the incredible beauty and diversity of our world.
I mostly paint from memory arranging the elements to form interesting compositions. Regardless of whether it is a traditional landscape or an abstraction, I find myself seeing and feeling the space, light, time of day, temperature and weather in my mind’s eye and letting what is on the canvas direct my hand. Each piece begins with a loose idea that evolves gradually and intuitively as I build up the surface layer by layer. I always have an idea of what I want to explore but invariably I find that the painting takes on a life of it’s own and I’m never sure where it will end up. This experience is both exhilarating and, at times, confusing. I think it must be much like the experience of a writer whose characters take over and force the direction of the story.
I work both in oils and pastels but always in the same way, by applying countless layers of pigment and allowing each layer to show through. This process gives a wonderful richness to the surface. In the case of pastels, I use a fixative between the layers so that each layer remains bright and doesn’t become muddy. To get the same result with oils, I must let each layer dry before the next is applied. I also move back and forth between landscapes and the abstractions based on those landscapes. I find switching gears in this way keeps me from “getting stuck”.