I’ve been obsessed with painting for a long time. Starting out, I was fortunate to study with artists working within varied traditions. In the late 80’s after studying with some successful Neo-expressionists in Germany, I began my career in Nebraska with an ironic sort of Neo-regionalist-expressionism which shifted in the 90’s to a more sincere realism inspired by concern for the climate. I was drawn to the practice of social critique that had been integral to the origins of the Realist movement; I had hoped to make work that could speak to varied audiences. More recently, as the climate crisis became nightly news and our social institutions strain, my work has shifted again. The most notable change is the introduction of tromp l’oeil, subjective color, and abstract elements. This pastiche seeks appropriate metaphors for our predicament. For example, the painting Wrench visualizes the interdependence of concepts like nature and culture while also referencing the undercurrent of malevolence toward each of these concepts as we wade further into the Anthropocene; Premonition depicts the ubiquity and lethality of misinformation; Flight reflects on climate displacement, and so on. Nevertheless, the act of painting is a hopeful gesture, a prayer that people might yet pull together. Consequently, I aim to make them beautiful.
These painting owe much to the philosophical notion of the sublime and to various Romantic landscape traditions such as the Hudson River School. In contemporary context however, the immenseness represented by a foreboding sky reflects more on the long-term impacts of climate change.
These paintings evolved from the landscapes. I became fascinated with the challenge of depicting a cloud’s fractal nature: endlessly complex and also endlessly self similar. Similarly, clouds are good a metaphor for the self, because while they seem substantial they are impermanent and in constant change.
This body of work grew from my study of the elaborate fractal patterns in the cloud paintings. In my abstractions, I sought to create the same sort of complexity. I have made hundreds of these drawings starting each with a line scribbled line as spontaneously as possible followed by a search for compelling shapes. It is a process of trial and error with each choice impacting the next. This work continues to evolve, and the process has been incorporated into some of my recent paintings.
The use multiple point perspective in these paintings draws the viewer into the space and suggests movement and maybe the possibility of an animate world. This amplifies the psychological impact of the images.
Daily routines offer an opportunity for regular mindful reflection. These paintings explore the infinite narrative and visual potential latent in even the most ordinary activity.