My Artwork 1
I usually start with the direct observation of nature. I often spend hours and hours walking, bicycling, or driving around town and the countryside, stopping to make visual notes (sketches and studies) and to make photographs. What catches my eye might be a panoramic view. It is just as likely to be an intimate scene along the side of a small creek or one in a neighbor’s backyard. I can find nearly infinite interest in the landscape, even in the few square inches of land at my feet. In the studio, I pour over my drawings, sketches, photographs, as well as my notes, before I begin working. Don’t get me wrong though, I do not plan each piece completely. Instead, my approach to watercolor, gouache, or acrylic is much more like a jazz musician. I practice and plan, but then I improvise based on that exploration. I am also likely to incorporate materials associated with printmaking, collage, as well as new industrial or digital processes into my drawing and painting materials as I experiment with the image. From my childhood on, I have had a love of naturalist’s illustrations of plant life and animals as well as antique and contemporary maps and diagrams. Sometimes these find their way into my work alongside the images I glean from the natural world. I am not always sure when I find, combine, or create an image what it’s final destination or format will be. It may end up being a final collaged piece that is 4x5 inches, it may be a medium sized painting, or it may become the central image in a larger installation piece that is 20 feet long.
No matter which path I take, what way I work, I bring together naturalistic and abstract elements into a balanced, if rather tentative, harmony.
I grew up in towns and cities around the country that were home to universities, military bases, and the aerospace industry. My father’s family is from the U.S. but my mother remained proudly “from Great Britain.” As an adult, prior to relocating my family to Virginia, I lived, studied, and worked throughout the Southeast and Midwest ... from Atlanta to Wichita, from northern and central Florida to eastern North Carolina. Early in life I became aware that places and people were intrinsically the same and were yet quite different wherever we went. Soon I was entranced by the visual differences that culture and location offered and I spent many hours taking in the natural and human built world. I sought out grand vistas and small quiet places; spending hour upon hour in a type of exploratory visual reverie. I still do. Balancing the fact that I was something of a natural contemplative, I was also very interested in natural, social and cultural history … including archeology, biology and geography. All the while, I was constantly making images. So it came as no surprise to my family that, when I went to college, I followed all of my interests … but chose to do so by being an artist. Since 2000, I have lived, made art, and taught in the shadow of Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. Despite the fact that I loved my visits around the country (from Vermont’s forested mountains to the arid river valleys of Phoenix and Taos, from the fresh and salt marshes of southern Florida to the beautiful plains of the upper Midwest or the rocky coastline of California), these ancient Appalachian mountains and valleys have felt like home to me almost from the moment I moved here. As an artist, I am at home with my love for visual ideas and images, with my passion for color and design, and with sharing my work with you.