Both my large scale studio paintings and my plein air paintings are abstractions derived from many years of careful observation of nature. On occasion, I will select a motif, such as the shape of a banana leaf, or the silhouette of a fish. More often, I am guided by my visual experience, visual memory and what I experience in my body. I merge with the movement and light of what I perceive - how plant life leans and swirls in the wind, how water drifts and churns, how light scatters, how there are deep pockets of darkness on a sunny day.
Illusions of control over time and space are built into the traditions of landscape painting with orderly progressions from bottom to top and foreground to background. I believe that nature is non linear, and both timeless and endangered. The format of many of my paintings is an extended horizontal –approximately 55” wide. With this long "horizon," I evoke landscape. I create a space to linger in - where one takes time to experience merging of the parts and whole and where there is no vanishing point to speed up and direct perception. I play with the elemental order and suggest that the bottom is not separate from the top. Shifting references to representation stimulate the imagination. Themes include heat rising, changes in our ocean, and the power of wind. I often paint in response to poetry that evokes our dear and endangered earth. Some of my titles are lines from these same poems.
I have been working as a pastel painter for over 30 years. The surface I work on is a sanded paper underpainted with acrylic. In some pieces I also build up the final pastel painting with acrylic gels on top of which I apply more pastel.
I also create on a small scale with mixed media (watercolor, ink, pencil and pastel pencil) These pieces are also teetering - with indefinite horizons and wavering references to representation. The entrance into this work is less through the body than with the larger paintings, and more through the inner life, the emotions, and the stimulation of imagery that keeps changing forms.
I often work in a series with predetermined color relationships. I do this because of the rich and interactive palette that results and also because limitations and repetition lead to freedom.
Plein Air Painting
My plein air paintings are in response to the energy and connections I experience in nature. Plein air painting involves all my senses. It's more than a visual experience. Whether I'm painting the mesas at Ghost Ranch, NM or the tropical foliage in Costa Rica, I am looking at more than what the camera might see, more than the literal description. With rocks that are a million years old, there’s so much energy that has gone into forming them. If I paint the surface of that, then I’m not actually painting what’s there. I paint to reveal the energy of the landscape beneath the surface.