Why I paint
"I paint because I must. It is my passion and my joy and my release of emotion."
As I continue to explore and learn more about the process of painting I am finding my preference and primary medium is oil paint on canvas. The richness of the colors and ability to glaze influences my choices and enables me to work more freely. I have been an artist since my first big box of crayons. However, my professional period began around 1977 and can be loosely defined as the point when I moved from realistic and figurative into more abstraction. Throughout my life I continue to study and learn from other great artists. I was influenced by the Abstract Expressionist. I loved studying the styles of Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, William de Kooning. On the other hand, of course my love affair with the impressionists, Monet, Manet, Degas will never cease to deepen and refine my relationship to and facility with the amazing things you can do with the light and medium.
My oeuvre can be broken down into a multitude of periods; shifts in my work typically coincide with a shift in where I live and my surroundings. I am moved by mountains and forests and find landscape impressionist painting rewarding. As my personal relationships change, or some major life event occurs I see that reflected in my art.
“My paintings repeat a feeling about Secret Forests, or water, or waves. I love to travel and I love to write. I wish that painting could be more like a poem...and words like beauty, gentleness, joy, surprise, could speak into what I want to paint.” The myriad things that comprise and moved within my world - family, friends, location and observance of water, sky, trees, flowers, weather, dogs and cats have - created images and memories from which my work has been influenced. These things are often named in the titles I chose, which are usually conceived or attributed after a painting’s completion. I am constantly looking, photographing and observing my surroundings intensely. After periods of reflection and acute visual observations of form, space and color in life my work changes and what I create perhaps is a blueprint of the visual memories I draw upon while painting.
In my early career I worked primarily at night and rarely if ever painted from life, but chose photography for a reference. Now in the fall of my life I am blessed to be able to move to the outdoors, part of the reason I love living in Hawaii. In order to prepare myself for painting, now I love the internet and the vast resources available about artists and their work and I study artists, styles and techniques. I also continue to write and read poetry or listen to music. I love piano music. An artist's life is about being in front of a canvas and pouring out my emotions onto the surface. I work in solitude, except for the company of my dogs. My paintings are built slowly and carefully; I can stand back and look at a blank canvas or painting in progress for long periods of time. I have the luxury of choice and can decide where each line or mark should go, then serendipity happens and I approach the work to place paint quickly and confidently. I use my whole body, it is like a dance. The arc of my arm swinging can be seen in the brushstrokes in many of my paintings, especially at the top where I need to be extending to reach the top of large canvases. Indeed, my approach to painting takes energy and time and is both physically and mentally rigorous. These principles of physical action and movement, combined with careful, precise visual observation of my surroundings and environment, underscore my continual desire to grow, learn and master my life-long approach to painting.
Although, now I prefer larger paintings as opposed to small ones. “What excites me when I’m painting is the unlimited choices of color and what one color does to another and what they do to each other in terms of movement, space and interaction.” Often simply adding a stroke of red or blue or a single bit of a color found nowhere else in a painting can anchor and create equilibrium in the whole composition. My work changes with each new focus although I think it synthesizes in a multitude of contrasting concepts and forms: line and mark, light and dark, warm and cool, space and density, growth and decay, gravity and lightness. When asked why I paint, “…because I get lost in the finding and I don’t exist anymore—it’s wonderful. I’ve always said it’s a freedom. You will always see me in a photograph with my arms spread out as though I am about to fly and this is the feeling I want to put in my work, soaring, moving, flying, feeling, dancing, living loud with gratitude and joy. It is like riding a bike with no hands.
"In my minds eye I fly as I paint. I fly above it and into it and become a part of the movement. With each stroke it is as if I am flying, my whole body becomes the brush.”