My current work in progress depicts a lean-to located near the headwaters of Six Mile Creek. The structure was built quite a few years ago and I’ve seen it many times when visiting one of my favorite local hiking trails. Last year I saw it with “new” eyes, photographed it and noted that the captured image had an interesting composition. I particularly liked the way the structure formed a window-like view of the forest and stream in the distance. I just started painting a couple of days ago.
The natural world inspires me, with my background as a biologist, I guess that’s to be expected. I spend a lot of time on rivers and streams while fly fishing, so I sometimes spend hours staring at the water surface for hatching insects and rising trout or salmon. I enjoy seeing the way that transparent water allows a subsurface view but also interacts with light and reflections to create an ever changing scene. Many of my paintings have to do with water but anything that has an interesting composition is fair game. Beyond the subject matter alone, all of the images I’ve painted have some deeper meaning to me; often a place I’ve known for a long time that has special memories, a revelatory short encounter or in some cases persons I know well. Besides the artistic value I strive for, the paintings have become a personal visual diary.
Ever since I was a kid I was always interested in drawing and doing art and I did art related activities through grade school, junior and senior high school. In college I took a few art classes to break up my science heavy course of study. There were a few artistic diversions while I was in graduate school, but then there was a long hiatus of over thirty years, when I really didn’t do much of any “art” except for some drawing or drafting required for my research or teaching. About 15 years ago I picked up the oil pastels, because I remembered enjoying the medium in my youth, and I began to have more free time. It’s just grown from there.
As far as the process goes, my pieces tend to be small; they’re intimate in size and often point of view, and they contain as much rich detail as I can create. I enjoy getting into the nitty-gritty of re-experiencing a place as I paint it. The act of painting for me is a way to revisit memories or places. Other artists say this as well: the creation process can be a form of meditation as its intensity can shut out the rest of the world for a while. Eventually, usually after a few hours I find myself struggling with something and I quit for a while and then I’ll pick it up the next day.