My work relates to the abstraction of both the Russian Constructivists and to some of the post-Minimalists like Martin Puryear, Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Mangold. Although I use a minimalist or reductive language, my work aspires to something different from the no-content dogma of minimalism. With the use of simple shapes, color, surface, and with differing depths within each piece I strive to elicit metaphors. With a slow unfolding the viewer can internalize the dynamics of the work through his/her own emotional or intellectual filters. Thus, while the extreme abstraction leaves my work very open to interpretation, the interpretation can become very intimate.
I am concerned with creating pieces that are both in stasis and flux. These opposing forces – the ebb and flow - create a kind of equilibrium. It is important to me that I work with multiple pieces within pieces. I could do a pictorial rendering of an image, but that would not satisfy the conceptual basis of the piece. The sculptural qualities enhance the energy and impulses that drive my work and its content.
Although there is a refined finish to each of my pieces, I work the surface - painting, sanding, using different additives (wax, clay) to the paint. I strive for warmth in my work. I am not interested in achieving a manufactured, machine-made finish.
I'll do thumbnail sketches for quite awhile until I arrive at an idea for form. I'm actually in that mode right now as I'm getting close to wrapping up a body of work. When I finally hit on something I'll continue making lots of sketches that relate to one another. I tend to create suites of work rather than making "one off" pieces. The way I envision work is rather like installation. I like the idea of the work being together, conversing. That's not to say that individual pieces cannot stand alone; they certainly do. But I like there to be some consistency in form throughout a given body of work. I also have in mind a thematic color for a body of work. But sometimes that simply doesn't work. I can't be too overbearing with the color. It becomes what it has to be. That's probably the most intuitive aspect of my work.
I translate my sketches to firm designs on graph paper, and send them to my panel maker. We've worked together for a long time, so he knows what I meant to do when I make a math mistake somewhere. He's a fabulous painter as well as a very fine furniture builder and restorer. My work can be very complicated to make; it requires precision in the construction. I could never build my panels myself without years of learning how to make them.
My pieces take a long time to make. I build up surface and color slowly. I use oil because I like the quality of the color and finish much better than acrylic. I layer, although I have no set agenda on the number of layers. I just work till I get the surface right. That can mean four layers; it can mean 10 layers. I'm fussy about the surfaces. But at the same time I don't want my surfaces to be industrial or cold. I want my hand to be apparent in there. If you look closely at my surfaces they're quite imperfect. The rub is always what level of imperfection is acceptable. That's purely a visual decision. Sometimes I'll juxtapose textures or levels of glossiness within a piece to emphasize the contrast or tension. I'll use different mediums and additives to achieve these things. I guess I'm a little bit of a mad scientist. I became pretty well-informed about all sorts of media when I taught a class called The Materials and Techniques of Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. I taught all kinds of paint and medium making. It was great fun to learn how to make not only oil and acrylic paint, but also, pastels, watercolor, gouache, egg tempera, gessos. Then there were the mediums.....It's endless. Ralph Mayer became my guru during that time.
Then, of course, there's the color. When I'm starting a painting or a body of work, I'll have an idea of what I want, but I have learned that I must be flexible, non-egoistic. For me, color is the icing on the cake in the painting process. Color, for me, is palpable. When I hit the right combination it is vibratory. I always try to figure out how we know when what we’re whistling or singing is on key. It feels right physically. That’s how color is. The right shade or the right relationship can be felt viscerally. It's right or it's wrong. The right combination feels good on my eyes.
The scariest part of the construction process is when I have to screw the components of a piece together. I've messed up pieces at this stage and had to repaint many times. I've drilled through the surface when putting together certain kinds of pieces. So I then either start over or repair, and that prolongs the process. I've had no choice other than to be patient.
At this point when I finally get a piece together, and I've looked at it endlessly, all the pieces together I have to be extra critical. I put it up on a wall and look. And look. Sometimes it has to come off the wall, be taken apart, and some color or surface repainted. It can be very frustrating, but I tell myself "good enough isn't good enough", and on I go.
There is no man alone, because every man is a microcosm, and carries the whole world about him. - Sir Thomas Browne
Using a minimalist vocabulary and a reductive aesthetic that emphasizes the importance of space, rhythm, structure, and relations, I make works of art that are concrete and essential approximations of my own emotional and intellectual experiences. The work reflects my interests in architecture, music, science, sculpture, and painting as well as the threads of commonality that run between them.
The tendency or desire to gravitate toward unity and stability is in opposition to the urge toward independence, transition, and growth. My work evokes this same tension, the dynamic that underlies my own existence. I see each piece as being analogous to the rhythmic and contradictory forces of stasis and flux that propel my world toward both constancy and change.
We are star-stuff contemplating the stars. - Carl Sagan