I have been told that creative people are flexible and independent, with a tremendous spirit and a love of play. I think this is how other people see me, but if not, it is certainly an aspiration. Blank canvas vacillates between that hopeful feeling of creating and the insecurity of not knowing what I can do. I am terrible at formulas and rules and must work out my painting like a beginner. I spend much time on academic rendering of objects and landscapes, and then I need a break and want to throw paint around and see what happens. Creating for me is like accessing and balancing two sides of my brain. I have the intuitive side, where I don't want to think but play, and the focused side, where I need to measure, make tonal adjustments, and work out exactly how to make a thing. Rules must be followed, and rules must be broken. The breaking of rules is where both the fun and frustration lie.
I focus in my head for a long time before discovering what I want to say in a painting and then I give it all of my attention to discover an aspect that has never been seen or described by anyone before. I have always had trouble letting one side or the other part of my creativity go. In the early 1990s, as a young student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I noticed that the painting department was segregated into two opposing disciplines. One focused on detailed and exacting figurative studies, and the second focused on large abstracts; the bigger and louder equaled better. Back then, I decided to do both to see which I liked better and today, I continue to explore both, still trying to decide. the truth is that they both have a place. The young me had a false idea that to be a serious artist, one must be an abstract artist. Today, my thinking has shifted, and to be a serious artist, it takes nothing more than having an artist's spirit and courage. Everything has something unexplored because we have grown used to letting our eyes be conditioned by the memory of what others have thought before us about whatever we are looking at. Painting honestly is not about painting something new, but rather painting like everything we look at is new.
Today, I have added the landscape into my work working in Plein-air. Plein-air is an old 19th-century painting style outdoors, or with a strong sense of the open air, that became a central feature of French impressionism. I love the physical aspect of trapping around the land with my little paint box and setting up camp for the day. I can often be seen lugging my tripod and painting around with my Portuguese water dog, Pongo. I spend my suppers exploring the New England landscape and winter in sunny Flordia. I worry tremendously about the environment, and painting often becomes a meditation on the beauty of the earth and the human mark upon it. Painting in the elements reminds me how fleeting the days, the light, and the human experience is. It is with deep respect that I share my creations with you. To be fully human is to create.
I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
What a Wonderful World
-by Louis Armstrong
"Imperfection is, in some way, essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect as part of it is decaying, part nascent. And in all things that live, there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life but sources of beauty. To banish imperfection is to banish expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed.