For the past 20 years I have been exploring the place where fine art and folk art intersect. My subject matter draws from the local experience of community, family and immediate surroundings as well as an internal dream place. Although some of the imagery is very personal, I am always striving for the universal. The figures in the pictures are simultaneously ‘me’ and a sort of ‘Everyman’.
I usually begin with a compositional idea, and once that is established, I let things grow organically. At times I approach a composition like a quilt, or even a stained glass window; breaking down the composition into luminous forms and shapes. I try to see the pictures simultaneously both for their ‘story’ and as pure abstraction. Often there are different layers in the paintings. Some of the figures will have several heads; one that seems more solid and others that look more transparent and ghostly, hinting perhaps at the passage of time or suggesting that reality is more pliable than we usually think. They might be a representation of the soul or perhaps just a symbol for the many levels of personal consciousness.
I’m interested in memory; the memory of place and experience. The memory of walking down a street imagining the view from a birds eye view, while simultaneously seeing a house in the distance, noticing small objects on the ground and briefly experiencing other people’s lives as they pass by. It’s the moment that happens when the external world overlaps with the internal world.
“Although my new paintings are to a certain extent an ode to the local experience of our community and a mirror of my surroundings, I am always striving for the universal. Beneath the surface qualities, I try to view the pictures simultaneously as their ‘subject matter’ and also as a pure abstraction. On the surface, I’m influenced by Outsider and Folk Art from around the world and my methods are not too far from a quilt makers methods, breaking down the composition into organic forms and shapes. I usually begin with a compositional idea, and once that is established, I let things grow organically. I’m always hoping to ‘solve’ the picture in a way that is surprising to me. I’m happiest when the outcome is not entirely what I planned. I’m interested in memory; the memory of place and experience. The memory of walking down a street imagining the view from a birds eye view, while simultaneously seeing a house in the distance, noticing small objects on the ground and briefly experiencing other people’s lives as they pass by. Painting is a good way of capturing many different events and emotions occurring over a long period of time and condensing it into a single moment. If I am not happy with the way a face is painted I draw it again on top of the original, and the face that I like lies somewhere in the space between the two. I like to leave remnants of all stages of the painting process. In another more deliberate sense however, these ‘ghost’ images become a literal manifestation of the larger spirits of the figures; the life energy that is too big to be only contained inside the body. Personally, I often have the sensation of not being in my body, but of hovering somewhere above it, and this feeling is also something I hope to translate into image. With the new work I have been thinking of the idea that every thing is made up of relationships. Families are made of separate people, people are made of spirit and matter, atoms made of electrons, etc. There are no basic building blocks, because every element is always made up of smaller elements. In an attempt to transplant this concept into a 21st century ‘folk’ painting, I’m moving away from the singular personal story line to one that focuses more on the community, and the great ocean of souls from which we all emerge. In one sense there is a story being told on the canvas but if you look closer, it’s made of colorful pieces of fabric with histories of their own; fabrics which are in turn made of individual colored threads. It’s a harmonious collection of shapes and blocks of color that only tell a linear story in your imagination.”