In my work, I strive to evoke a particular moment in time, often fleeting and reflecting an imminent, significant change. I’m often inspired by photographs I see in the newspaper, especially on the sports page. Taken out of context, these frozen bodies in motion — their faces contorted with great effort and emotion — are a powerful basis for my paintings. As I paint, I enter a contemplative zone, and the story about what the piece represents evolves in my mind.
A recent example is my work “Sudden Death“: Characters are staring in disbelief at something above their heads, beyond the canvas; something the painting’s viewer cannot see. It is the exact second of recognition that they’re about to be destroyed. It all started with a newspaper article about a fiery meteorite crashing in Siberia. A few pages later, I saw the photo of entangled basketball players intently looking upward at the ball — and the “story” and imagery for “Sudden Death” came together immediately. As I worked on the piece, however, the story evolved further: It became a metaphor for sudden, unforeseen death of young, vigorous adults. The painting is dedicated to my nephew, who died unexpectedly during the course of my work on this piece.
I see my works as puzzles: I deconstruct images into their design elements, then reconstruct them into finished pieces. My work is fairly representational, with some abstraction of form. I use acrylics to paint:
- Landscapes, seascapes, and cloud/sky studies
- Human and animal portraits
- Floral studies
- Still life studies
Most of my landscapes are of scenes found in New Hampshire and New England. When possible, I paint en plein-air.
However, I mostly work in my studio, using photographs that I have taken as references. I’m not a slave to the photos; I adapt the images to match my aesthetic. I prefer simple, strong design. I use quick, sometimes choppy brushstrokes and angles, diagonals, and triangles to impart a sense of direction and movement. The high contrast of lights and deep darks plays an important role in my composition. I start each work with a burnt umber underpainting, which I believe imports a richer color to the subsequent paint layers. While I favor vibrant colors, I also enjoy exploring the subtleties of shades of white, as in cloud formations, fabric, or ceramic tile.
Stylistically, I channel Impressionism, using swift abstraction of shape and color to capture ephemeral scenes. But perhaps my greatest inspiration is the work of Neolithic cave painters. The freshness and modernity of their designs astound me. But what I find most compelling is the fervor of these artists, who painted in the depths of darkness.
What stories they must have been telling with their art. For me, painting is the art of the story.