When creating, I focus on process; themes and series will follow on their own. If I forget this principle my paintings become too self-conscious. I can always tell the difference in my reaction to a painting.
My way of working is consistent with what I learned from my dad growing up even though I did not have him very long. He was an inventor, painter, scientist, photographer. His restless spirit and love of the natural world I took as my own from my first memories. In my development as an artist, his encouragement was crucial. When I was eight years old, he gave me a camera and a book on how to grow roses; a subscription to National Geographic was a yearly gift. Many times he allowed me into his darkroom when I couldn’t see the top of the counter when standing there. So many of his inventions so long ago were about conservation. This information I did not understand until I was an adult. As an eccentric and innovator, he gave me gifts that I use to this day as I search the processes that help create images.
Since January of 2017, my work became even more process oriented than at any time of my life in art. I made many drastic changes to my artistic life at the beginning of the year which opened up a scary and beautiful new world. The theme of memory began to resonate with me in a more direct way on this new path.
Though memory is a theme of mine and has been for many years, it now has meaning with broader implications more personal and at the same time more broadly connected to the natural world around me. The history of my work is an important guide. A thorough examination of photos, journals, sketchbooks, and slides (yes I have those) is invaluable when connecting to image memory, recovering ideas and discovering new images. I see the natural world everywhere in that examination: the human figure, trees, leaves, landscapes, birds, textures, fossils….too many to name.
Using fragments of memory is working to my advantage as I paint my new series. I do mean fragments: little lines, marks, and shapes that apparently have little or no connection to objects but appear in abundance. Expanding drawing sessions is part of the process. The series started very crudely but is beginning to be refined with each layer on each painting. Editing is paramount and difficult.
I don’t name the fragments though there are some that are easily identifiable. It is very hard to allow for such abstraction to be its own entity and each day is a challenge. Not much time may elapse between each session of painting or drawing. I’ve always worked every day in the studio, but now it is more important not to lose the connection by allowing too much time to elapse. Needless to say, many paintings are in process since drying layers is necessary before I go on.
The image above is an underpainting ready to begin. Below are process images.