My Process

I paint landscapes.

I live on a rural island surrounded by wild creatures huge trees, ocean, mountains and open spaces. I ride a black Arabian mare through the old growth forest trailed by an Irish wolfhound named Griffin. As we move through the woods and vistas I notice colors as they contrast with one another. I notice color, shapes, line and form that I would never have conjured on my own. I especially pay attention to the abstract spaces and patterns. We pause under ancient cedar and listen to water falling. Feeling into the spirit of the place. The forest, especially the ancient ones are rich with a presence.

In the studio I stretch canvas and linen. I do this because I want the finest of quality and workmanship but also to honor and form relationship with surface.

I use oil paint because of its buttery quality and vibrancy of color. I love the smell and the feel under my brush. I love that it is the medium of my lineage of painters. I love its softness and that it is archival and in my opinion the highest quality medium I can use. I love that I can create soft edges and blend beautiful passages. I use lavender essence or soybean oil to clean my brushes and make mediums of lavender, alkyd and walnut oil for making glazes.

I worked in watercolors for many years and as with that medium see the benefit of glazing. That is using layers of paint and alkyd mixtures to create luminosity and light that makes a work “glow.” I work on several paintings at one time allowing them to dry between layers. It takes weeks, months or longer to finish a painting but in the end the work and time pay off.

I am a contemplative painter.

My time in the woods is separate from the studio but the influence is present. I paint from the heart. What comes up as first thought is what I put down. The thought that happens before it is analyzed and translated.

I don’t usually have any idea of a direction when I start a painting. I begin with a thin drippy wash in a warm color like Indian yellow, ochre or transparent orange. I let the layer dry, then the next day create some chaos. Without any pre contrived ideas throw, squish, drip, scrub or scrape some paint on the canvas. The more chaotic the better. At this point I begin making order of the chaos one brushstroke at a time. This is where knowledge of color, composition, design and painterly quality come in. I begin to embellish and refine the shapes that were formed during the first couple of washes. Color is probably my most important consideration. I now focus on what color is a perfect combination to one that is down already. I contrast texture – thin wash next to impasto, for example. I work the shapes as if they are puzzle pieces, I use thin glazes to add luminosity and create colors that are unique and luscious. If things begin to seem too contrived I will grab a palette knife and arbitrarily add thick layers of paint. I will take a sharp instrument like a palette knife and cut through the layers revealing the colors underneath.

There is really no beginning and no end. The work goes on for days, weeks or months. The closer to done a painting gets the slower I go. I stop when the painting feels resolved and seems to have a life of its own. When the painting changes the energy in the room. That is when I call it complete.

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