Tell us about your process. Has it changed over the years?
Painting on wood panels, I first build up the surface with alternate layers of paper collage and acrylic paint. I then start sanding. This physical process reveals the under layers and I welcome the accidental, which gives energy and life to the work. The process itself dictates much of the direction of the piece, and the painting will take on a life of its own if I let it. It can be frustrating at times not knowing where the painting is going, but getting lost in the process is part of the routine and is the key to creating something new.
When working, I am always experimenting, I am always learning and my process is always evolving.
Much of your work has environmental themes. When did you become enamored with nature and how has that impacted your work?
I graduated from PSU in 96 with a Bachelor of Science and Fine Arts Degree. While my focus was painting, I was also very interested in the earth sciences and environmental science. I realized much later just how much these classes would impact my work.
Living here, between the mountains and the ocean, provides endless inspiration.
Through the years I have painted watershed themes that ranged from salmon to clearcuts, focusing on nature’s resilience and renewal. In my most recent work, my focus has grown to include how nature also has the ability to renew us. Looking back, I recognize this is what has drawn others to my work. The connection was always there, it just took me 20 years to see it.
Sometimes we see maps mixed in the base layers of your work. Where do you find these maps and when did you start to use them? Is there a reason that this technique is used in some pieces and not others?
I use recycled maps from various sources. Maps constantly need updating so in the past there has always been outdated maps available to me. Today, maps are printed on demand. I have to start stockpiling!
I started using maps in ’97 in my first show, a series about salmon. In the late 90s there was an outpouring of news articles about declining runs. This text, along with local navigational maps, became my collage base. It was an intriguing effect when combined with my process that revealed only bits and pieces of text and maps.
When I began painting landscapes it was a natural progression to add the maps, a perfect symbol of our relationship with the land. Through the years I have used maps in my work and thought of the lines as roots, roads or veins of the earth. From a distance you can’t even see them, but up close it’s a much different painting, and for the viewer the subtle map lines add another layer of exploration.
Sometimes the layers of paint get so thick the map disappears and texture and atmosphere take over.
Water appears in nearly all of your landscapes. Do you have a special affinity towards water scenes?
When I started showing with Gallery 903, I remember being asked if I only paint water, and I said of course not. Looking back, I realized I hadn’t made a painting without some form of water in it for many years. So, I guess it is fair to say, I like to paint water. I just can’t help myself. Water is captivating… it can be so powerful, yet soft.
Now there is even new research that shows water brings a meditative calm. But we already knew this, we are naturally drawn to water in all its’ forms. Water is renewing, and for me it is an endless source of inspiration.