Many of my mixed-media abstractions capture colorful scenes that are photographed through clear viscous oils painted onto warped glass—imagine brushwork with a nearly frozen cold-pressed virgin olive oil. The result is ephemeral as the oil warms and slowly runs. The camera captures only a fleeting moment before my painting is gone.
I love two disparate worlds—both nature and the beauty of abstracted shapes and c0lors. My artwork combines both of these, linking wild forms and vivid hues to the patterns inspired by natural scenes. I spend a great deal of time outdoors, and I attempt to capture the natural world in a direct manner. My traditional nature photographs are often used as inspiration for my mixed-media portfolios that explore more abstracted themes. It’s deeply satisfying to unite my love of mountains and wilderness with artwork emphasizing stories told primarily through shape and color.
The emphasis in all of my artwork is photography. Brushstrokes are visible in some of my mixed-media work, but painting in viscous oils is intentionally imprecise and adds flavor rather than focus to the images. The painting technique blends into the background, and the choice of scenes photographed through the glass provides all of the color and much of the underlying story.
Many of my nature photographs have the same emphasis on shape and color as the works seen in my mixed-media portfolios. As an example, consider “Etude in Pink No. 1 (Flower Stamen)” (to the right). Taken out of context and out of scale (about 150 times life size in a 16 by 20 print), this flower image becomes almost completely abstract and has some of the same flowing elements seen in “Tidal Wave” (above). Both photographs were planned and visualized before the shutter was released, but the Etudes in Pink rely solely on pre-existing natural elements and are photographed with no filters, oils, or special camera adjustments.
As if to de-emphasize the distinction between nature and studio, my more traditional nature photography has guided the composition of my mixed-media photography, and vice versa. Take “Golden Wave” (below) as an example and compare it to the strong diagonals and curves of “Tidal Wave” (above). In this case, “Tidal Wave” was painted and photographed almost a full year before “Golden Wave”, but the strong similarities make it clear that I am searching for the same themes in both the studio and in nature.
The choice of paper can add depth and meaning to an image. For many of these photographs, printing on cotton-rag fine-art papers contributes to the textures, an advantage of controlling the printing process in my own studio (see About the prints). The color on archival fine-art papers is rich and deep, allowing subtleties and vitality that cannot always be reproduced on the web. A common reaction is surprise at the detail in structure and color in my printed artwork, but I treat this an essential aspect of the artistry.