My purpose in painting has changed over the years. In the beginning, it was all about the “how.” I worked hard at learning the craft. Even as a child, I loved looking at paintings and felt a thrill when I saw a particularly beautiful landscape. I wanted to create something like that myself.
Then it became about trying to understand the “why.” I realized I was a sort of steward of the land, preserving on canvas places likely to disappear under the heavy foot of civilization and, hopefully, raising awareness. I’ve always been a nature-lover and enjoy most being in the wild. ( I’d read every page of Thoreau’s voluminous journals by the time I graduated college.)
Finally, it became all about the experience. For me, the experience is everything. I now know enough about “how” that I don’t have to think about it much. I now understand “why” so I don’t have to think about that much, either. Instead, today is no longer about the product—not the picture in a frame hung on the wall—but about the experience, the act of responding to the landscape in a personal way.
When new visitors come to my studio gallery, they look around and finally venture the question: “How many artists do you represent?” “Just me,” I say, “but I have a dozen different personalities.” And it’s true. Each scene I set myself in front of provokes a unique and individual response. I may paint in pastel, oil or gouache; I may paint with tight realism; I may paint with a loose, impressionistic stroke; or I may paint in blocky abstraction. Yes, this painting is by me, and so is this one, and that one.
Materials and process are automatic now. This allows me to channel all my energy into observation and response. What ends up on the canvas is a record of the beauty that enthralls me. My hope is that my viewer can share in this moment.