As an abstract artist, I am informed and inspired by the aging stone in structures such as walls, buildings, bridges and other eroding objects that I have seen in Europe, South America and North Africa. My paintings attempt to capture the history, evolution and erosion of the stone in the old walls and structures.
I see things in the stone – an abstract landscape, an atmosphere, other worlds. They are not just still, quiet and hard matter. There is so much there. A whole world exists. They explode with a history. I try to imagine what the stone has gone through – the destruction it has experienced from years of exposure to the changing environment.
I work in oil on canvas, using primarily oil sticks. I use very few if any brushes. I prefer palette knives, scrapers and any tools that give me the texture and surface I am looking for in the painting. But to be clear, I am not painting stone structures or old walls. I am painting what I see in them. The stone surface is my muse, my inspiration.
I start my paintings with a roughly applied ground, then add and build layers of paint over time until it develops a rich history. Sometimes there are as many as ten layers – each could be a painting in its own right – until I arrive at the final composition. I try to court the unexpected and allow the process to reveal or uncover what is there.
In some of the paintings, a landscape, seascape or moonscape may appear. In others, it is an atmosphere that evolves. But they all reveal a texture and sometimes may even have a sculptural effect. There is a tactile quality to my paintings. I want the viewer to see the artist’s hand in my work. Some of the paintings are loose and suggestive, while others are hard-edged and exacting. I allow my interpretive colors and sense of light and texture to flow from the painting that evolves. I think of these paintings as peaceful and otherworldly with a sense of mystery.
I feel my work resonates with the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the beauty in imperfection and the acceptance of the decay that time, weather and nature leave behind. I see the beauty in the aging stone structures and try to convey that in my paintings.
While working on these paintings, I have learned about the pietra paesina or landscape stones, which revealed scenes and were collected and displayed as natural objects of contemplation during the Renaissance. Those stones, a Florentine marble, have natural veining of iron and manganese oxide, which over the centuries has given the stone an abstract appearance of a landscape. I feel a connection with this bit of history.