An American Abstract Expressionist Artist from the California Coast
I arrived in Santa Barbara in 1980 and every day I am reminded that the greatest artist of all time is our creator, our “higher power”, who paints a breathtaking canvas every day.
I find continuity in both abstracts and expressionist landscapes, and I work on both with a kind of fluidity. I think that simplicity is often more profound than complexity...whether it be in art or mathematics or music. Einsteins theory of relativity - simple, elegant, profound. Same with Mozart's music. The most powerful ideas in the human endeavor are simple ones, authentic and organic. In an abstract painting, it may be the elegance of the simple black lines combined with the surprise of 2 or three colors on a largely white canvas that make it powerful - such as a Mondrian piece for example.
To me everything is perception. There is no one thing that is one way and that is the only way. What you see and what I see when we look at the beach may be entirely different. This is why expressionism painting is so interesting to me. How many paintings are there of the beach in Villefranche-Sur-Mer? 10,000? 100,000? A plein air painting of that beach doesn't interest me. Realism doesn't interest me. I already know what a picture of that beach looks like. I want to know what the artists saw in his mind, his interpretation of it, in an expressionistic way. To me that is more interesting.
My expressionism work is what I envision in my mind when I think of a subject, like a beach I visited, a tree, a mountain lake, or even just what my mind sees when it hears music. When I hear music I see colors, but not always and not in every setting. So I suppose I am not a true synesthete, but the studio seems to induce some level of synesthetic response in me.
I think any artist that is at all self aware would have to admit that they are humbled by what they observe in nature. I mean, how is it possible NOT to feel inadequate when you look at a sunset or sunrise and realize that no matter how hard you might try, you can never replicate on canvas the intensity of the colors you're experiencing or the infinite number of colors and shades that you see. I know that I feel that way. It's inspiring in a way, to feel that way. It makes you appreciate the world in which we live and the beauty that is all around us.
Abstract art is really challenging and fun. It is so wide ranging and open in its acceptance of style. The more I study abstract the more I realize that its about the originality of it and how I can spend the rest of my life doing it and never get to be great. That is exciting. It makes you get up in the morning. The nuances of certain artists abstracts, like Mark Rothco, are what make his work exciting although to the layman, it may seem like a painting of two blue boxes on a grey background. When you look at a Mondrian, you see a white canvas with four or five black lines of varying thickness that make up some boxes. And filling in a just a few of the smaller boxes are basically three colors - yellow, red, blue. That's it. Simple. Elegant. Clean. Architectural. But genius in the simplicity. When I see something like that, I have to walk away from it and from everyone around me and find some privacy to deal with the emotions that come with something like that.
I completed a really complex, fairly large piece named "Hollywood Boulevard Nights" - an abstract using a lot of texture and a technique that brings an almost digital feel to the painting. A Silicon Valley feel. It's a work I'm very proud of. The technique I used cannot be figured out and its organically all mine. I invented it. I created it. It gives the work a dimension that I've never seen in any other painting. Ever. That's the cool thing about abstract. This is not only alright with the abstract collector, its absolutely awesome to them. It's totally new. Acceptance of it is another matter, but what do we know about an artist being accepted by critics and collectors and the world? Time is a main factor. When you do something new you sometimes have to give the world time to get it. In 1975 if you told someone that 90% of their interactions with other people would be through a hand held phone without talking, they would have put you in a home for the insane. In 1985 if you told people that someday, everyone would have an electronic wallet in a mobile phone and that they would be paying for things by simply holding the phone up to a camera, same thing. What if I tell you that in 10 years you will be using that phone wallet to pay for things using a digital coin (not even a real physical coin) and that coin and wallet will use GPS to instantly convert that coin into the local currency when you pay for something. That's happening now but if you said that to someone just 7 or 8 years ago they would throw you out of their office.
The art world is a wildly exiting but quirky place. Some people think that being classically trained means you're a "good" artist. I don't even know what "good artist" means. Good according to whom? Some people don't care where you were trained. I wasn't trained anywhere, I'm not classically trained. The beauty of NOT being classically trained is that nobody messed up my mind. Nobody told me what was right or wrong to do this or that in art. Nobody taught me how to mix paint, how to use a brush, what brush to use in what circumstance. How to hold a brush or use a palette knife. Perhaps to some people they will laugh at this point and say "Ya - that is clearly evident" sarcastically. But the value in this is that I had to learn everything organically. So everything I do is organic and authentic and true. It comes from making a lot of mistakes and a lot of experimenting. But it's through that experimentation that you discover your own techniques, your own artistic voice so to speak.
I love Hollywood, Southern California’s coastline, the Western US mountain ranges, and just about everything in the Central Coast region. My dog Dixie and I travel the back-country roads of this state from Monterey south to the Mexican border. If we see a road we haven’t been on before, we take it. My inspiration comes from the surprising landscapes and weather I encounter and photograph on these trips. No place in the world looks quite like it or has the diversity of experience one can find in a single day.
Today I work mostly on canvas using oils – and other medium to create rich texture. I am liberal in my use of medium. I paint with brushes and knives and in some pieces, I creatively use other tools. I like doing pieces that are large – I rarely do small paintings. A recent piece I’ve completed is 8 feet in height by 4 feet wide, made for a 20+ foot tall stairwell area in a home.
I hope somewhere in my body of work you find a piece that talks to you, that you enjoy.