I have been working in oils for almost 40 years. Over this span of time, my work has been a continuous evolution of many elements that have run consistently within the thesis of my work; from the purely technical manipulation of oil paint on canvas in order to create believable space, and the constant exercise of finding vibrant color harmonies, to leaving perfect representation behind as the notion of illustrative landscape vs. essence of place has opened up a lifetime’s pursuit in capturing, and putting the viewer into, a landscape instead of merely looking at a landscape.
My early influence was Cezanne, for his color work as well as his work with creating form through color and brush stroke. And then I found Wolf Khan, whose lyrical, fantastical use of color in depicting landscape freed me from thinking that being merely a landscape painter was in some way less.
As my struggle with paint and painting evolved, so to, the underlying thesis of my work has evolved. In its essence it is this:
First, for me, it is the intellectual exercise of using whatever tool I can use, (brush, knife, finger, rag, or stick) to create marks that sit within their proper space on the canvas for the sake of the correct pictorial space. In short, back ground, middle ground, and foreground marks need to sit within the right picture space while also not denying that they are physically living on the same flat 2- dimensional surface. And of course, never to deny that this is paint, I often view my finished paintings as frosted cakes. Secondly, add to this, color, both for this first notion of pictorial space and then for itself, color for color theory’s sake, harmonies, juxtapositions, vibrant, clear, clean, and mesmerizingly not exactly what one would expect and yet, surprisingly, magically, they create mood, to evoke emotional response. Next, it is my intent to put the viewer “into” a landscape rather than looking at an illustration of a landscape. It is through all of the above that I endeavor to do so.
While working on the push and pull of paint and the surface attributes, I also am thinking about the notion of place. Earlier in my development I painted places, but, other than being able to show that I could do so, they left no lasting impact. Over time, I found myself thinking about sense of place instead of a place in particular. This led me to understand that ultimately, we each have our own unique sense of place. We often are not aware of it until we leave it and return after some time. A sight, a smell, a memory can bring you there in a moment. My paintings are first my attempt to paint my place, the salt marsh and second to create the potential to be any one’s place at the same time. The conceptualized landscapes I create live on their own after they have become resolved within my creative process. Once viewed by others, the colors, the marks, and the moods dialogue with the viewer’s own sense of place to hopefully transport them to it.
Finally, my sense of “scape” also considers how important the sky-scape is to each of our senses of place and my works use this understanding to push the viewer into the spaces I create. When most successful, they engulf and transport them to a place of their choosing/making, and at best, to their place.