Describe the time you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do? How old were you? Who or what inspired you at the beginning of your art life? Who or what inspires your art life today?
I was probably in middle school when I realized that art was something very important to me. I did not know how, but I knew I would be making art in some form throughout the course of my life. From a young age, I had access to art books at home, because my father was a part time artist, and he had a pretty good library of art history books. I could not get enough of those images by many of the old masters--Rembrandt, Carravaggio, Turner, Durer, Leonardo--so many others. Today, I am inspired by the notion of the spirit of humankind--the "inner being", the sublime, and the mysterious, spiritual aspects of our existence.
Why do you make art? What are you trying to communicate with your art? What element(s) of your inner spirit is reflected in your art?
This is a big question. Honestly, I don't really question why I make art. I suppose I make it because I have to. I am not particularly interested in specific "narrative" in my work (although I enjoy great narrative art); rather, I prefer to make evocative work that will hopefully spark questions within the viewer--generating some kind of emotional response. While I appreciate intellectual stimulation, my work is not really about that. I hope to tap into areas of feeling....more visceral concerns and impressions. I like to consider matters that go beyond our understanding of this physical realm. First, I am equally interested in abstraction and figuration, so I do not fight it. It is simply how my brain is wired. Most of my "abstractions", are only partially abstract, in that they refer to something real or that could be real. I like to create the "idea" of a place, whether steeped in reference to landscape, or to celestial forms. As I paint these, I am transported to another realm in my mind. Because they are mostly from my imagination, I just allude to the notion of some environment that may allow the viewer to bring up a memory of someplace they have been, or would like to be. They have a vague recollection, but the place is usually not literal. The ethereal properties of light suggest a source that can be otherworldly. Light has the ability to reveal...and the capacity to blind. Is it the sun? Is it from within? Is it beyond? I leave that for the viewer to decide. By creating voids and vaporous depictions, I increase the likelihood the viewer will complete the picture for themselves. In synthesizing the figure into some of these works, I engage my passion for painting the figure...but, I also believe that because we are humans, we relate to the figure. If I disguise features, or obscure identity, I allow the form to become more universal. In doing this, I hope the viewer can relate to the figure and imagine themselves in such a setting. Most of the work I create have some unconscious, spiritual component to them. The older I have gotten, the more I have come to believe that everything in the universe is connected. I can barely begin to fathom the great depths of the mysteries the cosmos offers, yet we are a part of it. I believe we are more than this physical "shell" that is our corporeal body. The idea of a "one-ness" between humankind and the universe has become something of a fascination for me. I do not try to supply any answers to life's big questions with my work...I simply try to visually express some of my thoughts and feelings to help feed that "yearning" that we have, as humans, to know that we are not alone in this vast plane of existence.
Is the atmosphere or design layout of your creative space/studio an important element in your creative process—why or why not? Is there something—a keepsake, an inspirational quotation, a photograph—you keep in your studio for inspiration or motivation?
I do not have the distraction of social media in my studio. Music is a must. When I am physically engaged in the act of painting, I often prefer music that is ethereal, instrumental, or that does not have lyrics that I can understand. The music supports the environment I am trying to create in the work. If I am simply prepping or doing more mundane tasks other than painting, I can listen to just about anything but gangsta rap and death metal. I have gallery track lights installed in my studio, so I can replicate the kind of lighting conditions that will be present when I show the work in a gallery. There are many art books and magazines in my studio that I sometimes pause to enjoy and from which I can get a shot of inspiration. I keep some older, "bad" paintings in my studio to remind me of where I have been, and to spur me on to make better work today than I made yesterday.
What kind of routines or rituals do you incorporate into your creative time? If you have one element or principle of art you enjoy working with the most, please describe it?
I pour myself something cold to drink, then I spend about 20-30 minutes just sitting back from the work I did the day before, looking at it...studying it. Often, I do some curls with small dumbbells while I sit and look at the work. This gets my blood pumping, and helps me to focus. When ready, I lay out my palette, get my materials together, and get cracking.
Currently, which creative medium do you work in? What, if any, other creative medium would you love to pursue?
I primarily work with oil and metal leaf on composite aluminum panels. I also work with encaustic and other mixed mediums. There is virtually no medium that I am unwilling to try, with the exception of highly toxic or dangerous materials
What is your most important artist tool? How does this tool factor into your art making?
I know you probably mean a physical implement of some kind, but, I believe my most important artist tool is my imagination. Without vision, the tools I use are of no consequence whatsoever. I often tell younger artists when they ask me about pricing, a buyer does not pay for your work based upon how much time you spent on it, or upon the materials you used to create it...they are paying for your VISION! They are paying for your unique voice. Find THAT and use it fully.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I am motivated by the journey itself. I am endlessly amazed at the way inspiration can come from anywhere--a book I am reading, something someone says to me, something I have seen on TV, a poem, a doodle, thoughts while walking in nature or standing in the shower, the turn of someone's head in a restaurant... I think if we would just stop, be quiet, and just pay attention more to everything around us, we would be so much better off when it comes to "inspiration" and motivation.
What one piece of advice would you give to an artist just getting started?
Don't be too hard on yourself. Whatever you lack in knowledge that is keeping you from your goals, go out and get it!
For what one thing would you like to be remembered?
How I treated others.
Describe yourself in one word.