I have been working on a talk I will give on Sunday, September 20th, at the Preston Contemporary Art Center. The talk will be a mini-
retrospective of the development of my art, and in going through more than 20 years of work, I am struck by the logical evolution of my technique, the enduring inspiration of the natural world, and the explorations of ambiguous perspectives of scale.
My first serious body of work out of college was mixed-media on paper. I was using watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil and gouache to create meticulous small drawings. These pieces were only about 3 to 4 inches square. It was necessary for me to work small because I was traveling and living abroad during those years. I developed a cross-hatching technique that involved a slow, labor-intensive process of building up layers of ink over watercolor washes. I was making abstractions using astronomical photographs as a visual reference. I was fascinated by the way the macroscopic universe mirrored microscopic worlds. My images could be inspired from galaxies and nebulae, yet relate to forms that could be seen through a microscope.
When I moved to New Mexico in 2001, the light flooded my senses, and the spirals unraveled and became veils. I was also enchanted with experiencing the four seasons again. This is one of the first paintings I created in my Santa Fe studio. The palette reflects the delicate pinks and golds of the springtime desert landscape.
I started to introduce geometric elements into the veil paintings, and I became interested in using the grid.
In March of 2006, I went to the Sahara desert to watch a total eclipse of the sun. I camped for a week with a group of Tuareg nomads. The experience astonished me and when I came back to the studio the veil imagery had been swept out of me. I began to work exclusively with the clean lines of geometry. I felt the grid was the answer to expressing the essence of Nature.
My current work has come full circle: Like those early pen and ink drawings, my oil painting technique today requires a very slow and deliberate buildup of cross-hatched brushstrokes. The work has become more painterly and there is a lot of texture. I love the flickering sensation of light and color that the layered brushstrokes create on the picture plane. The work is more minimal, and references nature and the landscape with an Asian aesthetic.
Building up paintings with the grids of brushstrokes has become a meditative practice for me -- it is a slow and labor-intensive process which allows my thoughts to wander into realms of transcendence and infinity. This is my most recent painting, Andromeda. The lack of lines, hard edges, and definitive boundaries imparts a dream-like quality to the painting. The ambiguous perspective invites the viewer to float in resonant, shimmering color fields.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
"Some of the most apparently radical aspects of Mondrian's working method in New York he had in fact refined for decades. Take his practice of working on a table and using the easel primarily to display paintings or even simply as a bare architectural element. With Mondrian, as with Jackson Pollock, working on a horizontal surface...was a crucial means of weakening, though not completely denying, the gravitational sense of top and bottom that underpins all figurative painting."
--Mondrian: The Transatlantic Paintings by Harry Cooper and Ron Spronk, Yale University Press (page 47)