The Space Between
My paintings are a bit like poetry, forming a visual rhyme made of parts assembled into a larger whole whose meaning is found partly within the ‘space between the lines’… or in my case - between the images I place on the canvas.
I find the most interesting topics are hard to speak to directly. There seems to be two ways of approaching a canvas: Abstraction to convey emotion, energy and beauty (but not specific meaning), or realism which is literal, but struggles to convey emotion or dynamism. It has taken me 30 years to locate the balance needed to speak my mind; The space between abstraction and realism.
During those 30 years I traveled widely with an eye towards observing the situation we face as people in transition from traditional life into today’s modern world. We humans are going through a radical change - from being a natural animal to one immersed in the abstractions of data which isolate us from the rhythms of our environment. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how we might figure out - as thinking spirit-beings - how respond to this ’new’ world. How do we retain a sense of mystery, of wonder, of magic in the face of ‘data’? Indeed how do we determine if it is even necessary do so?
So I intersperse within my work elements that speak to what it means to be human, to walk on today’s earth, to wonder about ‘it all’, and to the divine cosmic stuff that we all share and seek to understand. I use these elements as points of reference in my abstracted dream-like compositions. These are the stanzas in my ‘poems’ and are dedicated to us - as human beings.
I’ll admit I like to create attractive compositions and then tease you, the viewer with enough of a riddle to draw you in and ask you to figure out what’s going on… to place you into ‘the space between’ within which to wander and wonder about the curious paintings I have made for you. Then you get to color the ‘poem’ a bit with your own personal interpretation.
(P.S… to make the experience more interesting, most of my paintings have a corresponding poem to give you a sense of what I’m thinking as a point of departure.)
Most of my recent work has been inspired by the life, landscape and culture of Bali (and Asia in general) and integrates my reactions to recent cultural and political events in the US. In straddling cultures I grapple with the tension of experiencing the celebration of an active, thriving culture and the grief for one that feels lost, decaying, un-genuine, and unhappy. It is this tension that propels me to think often about the future we humans face and to work out what we should do to thrive in a post-modern context. Some of my conclusions about life, spirit, and our evolution into ex-homo sapiens are present (and hidden) in many of the newest pieces. Titles give clues as to what the ideas in a given painting may be.
People’s faces are complex, varied, challenging and fascinating to me. The baseline in drawing someone’s face is to capture a likeness, but true portraiture captures the spirit - either in a momentary expression or as a timeless entity that can be known through the features of the face.
A good source of skill for an artist is found in learning to draw the figure well. The challenging of this exercise fast-tracks the development of skills by which an artist is able to observe what they see very accurately and then draw it with accuracy. From this base, an artist is free to deviate in any stylistic direction with the capacity to design good images.
I work towards four ends as I draw the nude: 1. Accuracy of anatomy; 2. Depiction of space and light; 3. Dynamic linework and gesture; and 4. freshness… in technique, approach, and composition.
Born Poughkeepsie, NY 1959
Graduated BA from St. Olaf College, Northfield MN 1981
1981 first trips in Asia: Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Burma, and Mainland China.
I Begin to consider what being a ‘human’ means and seeking ‘humaness’ in cultures new to me. Travel allows for an assessment of common aspects to human experience.
1982-1987 Minneapolis. Participating in Theater, film, and music industries. Work painting murals, interior design, advertising and scene painting. Travel to Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Java, and Bali.
Learning about work and self and then exploring how to translate a paucity of life experience into art.
1987-1995 Moved to Chiang Mai Thailand. Some time teaching English at Chiang Mai University, Then opened ‘The Six Pole House’ - a restaurant and cultural center for arts and music. Some work as an illustrator, portrait artist, and muralist.Travel to Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Israel and Egypt.
Learning new languages and thus new ways to view personal experience. Integrating Thai/Asian culture and forms into my work. Heavily influenced by realism and by Thai culture.
1995-97 Moved to Bali, Indonesia. Worked illustrating books on Indonesian architecture, culture and wildlife, in graphic design, and portraiture.
Responding to Balinese culture which is deeply connected with Hindu myths and cosmology. Work is affected by the forms of dance, the landscape and Balinese artists. Illustrating using hyper-realism prompts a drift in personal style towards abstraction and gesture.
1997-99 Moved to Singapore. Created costumes for the Government of Singapore, Mural work, graphic design, portraiture, and art restoration.
Struggling to make a living as an artist. Singapore’s uber-commercial culture leaves me exhausted for ideas.
1999 moved to poughkeepsie, NY. Work painting murals, faux finishes, portraits, and graphic design.
Travel to Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, England, Ireland, and Russia.
No studio work until 2008. US culture rekindles thoughts about being human in a modern world. I begin to consider the implications of isolation, information manipulation, and restrictions on spirit and body that Americans experience - often unawares. In 2009 I began periodic retreats to Bali to work on composition and content for new work.
2014 Moved to Rhinebeck NY. New studio work incorporating conclusions from previous periods of thought.