Painting in progress '(Future) Earth at the iFell,' June 2017. Created with acrylic & oil paints.
My focus has long been on nature. In college I studied subjects relating to the earth and ecology such as Physical Geography, Conserving Natural Resources,Energy and the Environment. Later I took classes on creating wildlife habitats, and organic gardening. From the late 1980s, I have cultivated various properties. I have planted 1000s of trees and 10s of thousands of wildflowers - creating habitats more suitable for wildlife than industrial lawns.
The Art History that I am drawn to is mostly art related to nature and the human connection with it. I have been attracted to art that expresses spontaneity, with a directness of execution. I learned Sumi painting as an undergrad and have applied the concept to most of the mediums I use, whenever appropriate. These have included watercolor, acrylic, oil, pastel, charcoal, etc. And ink, of course. While it is not the only technique I use; a direct, controlled approach is at the core of what I do. Expressing the essence.
Since 2011, I have had 3 main focus areas - Water, Black birds, and the Earth. With the “Edge of Water” and “Hurricane Sandy,” I used oil paint with wax medium and sand - for a deep texture. Both series were about describing water. I started the Black birds series while I was commuting to a teaching job. I became very aware of the sky and the various sorts of black birds, flying together. Over the years, I have noticed the increasing amount of jet trails, as more and more people fly. So the paintings are a basic juxtaposition of nature with human technology - images of birds flying and the lines in the sky left by people traveling in jets.
In 2016, I started the Earth & Roses series. I use oil on panel with palette knives - with no wax (as I had been using previously). While painting these, I explore and become more acquainted with weather patterns and with geography. I become more aware of drought areas, and of how the clouds relate to the land. And then there are the roses. Visually they complement the continents and clouds, a play of scale and color. They are open to interpretation and work on various levels of meaning, including rational and emotional, conscious and subconscious. Beginning in 2017, I’ve started painting the earth in more detail, in acrylic - using some sand. I am creating some relief textures, as appropriate. I have also painted the earth to show how it will look in the future with sea level rise, melted ice, as well as expected drought / rain / other effects. I finish the background in oil — with the background consisting of my studio, or somewhere here ‘on earth’. This little bit of surrealism brings the big picture earth ‘down to earth’ where I live and work.