An Artist Statement in Four Parts

Part One - Why

"Rather than announce that I have discovered a truth, I am much happier merely suggesting that the viewer himself look longer and deeper into nature." - John McLaughlin

"I love looking at nature, but I don't want to see it when looking at my paintings." - Leon Polk Smith

Painting, for me, is an intensely personal, isolated, rarefied act of creation; the confluence of intention and chance. In my studio, while I'm painting, I try to empty my consciousness of the everyday bustle, hubbub and chaos of life. Looking at a good painting can also put me in that space. A space that is analogous to staring at my front yard in the fall when there is a striking interplay between the color of freshly sprouted grass and the dead leaves that have dropped from the maple tree; or the color of the hills and sky while I am sitting in the ocean just after sunset, waiting for a last wave. Or a patch of solid color in the corner of a 17th century Dutch master's painting where representation has been abandoned, where there is only paint for the sake of painting. Pure being in-the-moment.

My paintings are objects; they do not pre-exist in or copy nature, but are ultimately an invention of human consciousness. Like nature, I want my paintings to provide a space for contemplation, in-the-moment stillness, an undistracted engagement with the painting No narrative or emotion or metaphor or hidden agendas; no heroics or hubris; no history or mythology; no politics; just the painting in front of you, please.

The viewer, bringing his or her own set of eyes and nervous system, his or her own predilections and prejudices; the viewer may have an entirely different experience of my paintings.

Part Two - How

My entrée into every painting is color. That is the first question, what color (or colors)? After that question is resolved, the next question is how? How to put the paint onto the painting? In painting, these are the only questions I want to deal with.

Every painting begins with a plan for dealing with these two questions. Sometimes the plan works itself out just as I have imagined it would, sometimes it doesn't, but I stick to the plan anyway. Occasionally, while working on a painting, the plan changes; perhaps a better plan presents itself, or the original plan is such a disaster that a better plan is required.

In this regard, my paintings are experiments with color and surface texture.

Part Three - Materials

One thing that has always intrigued me is the potential longevity of an oil painting. It seems somewhat improbable that colored dirt and vegetable oil brushed onto a piece of cloth (or wood or metal panel) could hang around for four hundred plus years, but it happens. Early in my involvement with painting, I became fascinated with paint chemistry and conservation issues. Hence, the materials I use: oil paints, alkyd resin painting mediums and ground, aluminum panels. During a three year stint at Gamblin Artists Colors in Portland, I personally made most of the paints that I used on these paintings and had a hand in developing the painting mediums and ground that I use in all of my paintings. While in Portland, I also started painting exclusively on aluminum panels. In the time that I have been painting, I have progressed towards a more stable substrate: starting with canvas, then graduating to wood panels and finally arriving at aluminum. Given the materials that I am currently using, I am reasonably confident that my paintings will be around for a few hundred years even if they end up in a landfill somewhere.

Part Four - Seeds

  1.  At the end of my last show at Space 868, Mollie (curator of Space 868) asked me to do a 4' X 4' painting for her. It got me thinking about squares and the number four.
  2.  J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, sinfonias and inventions; Fernando Sor's guitar studies. They are all very short pieces, a catalogue of ideas and methods.
  3.  Contrapuntal music: the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm, and interdependent in harmony.
  4.  The Speedy Metals website.