I recall as a young child standing in the backyard watching airplanes fly overhead and wishing I were on them headed to some exotic destination far away. When in my house, I would spend hours flipping through the encyclopedia volumes in our den looking at photos of other countries and cultures. This interest in all things foreign followed me into college, later into industry, and eventually into an academic career. I have been fortunate to work, teach and/or travel around the world, and these experiences now inform my painting.
Even though I’m probably too early in my artistic journey to claim a signature style, I would describe my approach as cultural context painting. I usually work from observation and intuition, but I supplement these with my knowledge and memory of the culture of a place. For example, when painting scenes from my many visits to Ireland, I cannot simply block out the sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations I experience while there because they are all part of the cultural context. Similarly, when recalling my visits to Argentina, my painting reflects the warm conviviality of the people, the flavors of the wines, and the expressiveness of the language, music and dance.
Most of my landscape and seascape paintings could be described as representational. However, I would argue that even in my abstract painting, I still find myself thinking about representation of affect and context rather than only physical subjects. Perhaps this is why I became fascinated with impressionism back in college and more recently with abstract expressionism. I found the idea of painting color, light and form rather than only “objective” subjects to be liberating and therapeutic. I have always struggled with perfectionism and the need for control, and less objective painting techniques free me from the need to focus on details, allowing me to capture the expressive qualities of an idea, a physical setting, or a culture.
"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake."