Painting for me feels like composing and playing music. I look for rhythm and tempo created by the geometry of space. I think of tone and pitch when I work out the color and value relationships. I think of interpretation and feeling as I use my tools to manipulate the color atmospheres and spatial relationships.
I paint my life experiences. I paint the deserts, the pastoral landscapes, the mountains and the urban landscapes of winter, spring, summer, and fall. I paint all the places I encounter as I travel. I am very interested in expressing what life is like here and now.
I often wonder what causes me to stop and take note of something long enough that I pull out my paints and attempt to express that feeling. Right now, it is an intuitive feeling that I think has to do with rhythm, space relationships, and maybe genetic triggers. I cannot always express in words what it is, but I feel something about it. I find that this emotion only happens when I am out in the landscape. When I look at photographs, I am not compelled in the same way.
While painting outside, I feel heat, cold, wind, sun, bugs, as well as the visual experience. All these emotions, I hope, are translated into my work. I do paint in my studio because larger paintings require more time, which is not something that is available when working plein air. While painting plein air, I take digital photos of the area with the idea that having had the experience and a pronounced memory because of the concentrated observations while working outside, I can then go back to the studio with my study, color and emotional reference, as well as the digital photos, and work on larger paintings that require longer efforts.
I have lived in the suburbs all my life, but I have spent a lot of time exploring the western states. Plein air painting is a religious experience for me. In my contemplations of the big picture and how everything has come to be, I try to see and paint the relationship between our modern life and life before all the conveniences of our world came to be. The visual landscape stirs my soul in ways that I can only hope to express. I experience the landscape as both beautiful and as a place that is uncaring, unfeeling and hostile. It is that combination of feelings that makes this subject so interesting. My experiences outside somehow give me a glimpse of life before air conditioning. I see a causational relationship between the beautiful but harsh environment and our modern world–why we live in houses, drive cars, or talk on phones. Like somehow the experiences that our ancestors had as they lived and evolved in this landscape influence our very thoughts and feelings today in ways that we do not always understand or acknowledge. The necessity to survive has caused us to become intelligent and inventive, and by working through the environmental challenges, we have become who we are today. Painting the landscape, for me, is about awe, wonder and learning respect. It is also about understanding and recognizing our efforts to exist and flourish.
View the finished piece: