With an abstract mathematician father and a literary mother, my sensibilities were developed in a sea of logic and poetry. The solar system was modeled at the dinner table with apples, oranges and lemons. A few blocks away, the Free Speech Movement was being born, along with psychedelic culture and “free love”. Bizarre expressive characters were local institutions. My favorite was The Polka Dot Man, a mime who spoke monuments with a simple language of polka dots. I learned early to look for different ways of seeing.
At 10 I apprenticed to a local figurative sculptor and spent a year of Saturdays learning about form, the infinite angles of a subject and how to build and destroy works to start anew, perfecting process. Many years later, I studied painting and theory at California College of the Arts. In the years between, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Literature from The College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara and worked twenty years as a healer and coach with a passion for dance, dream studies, wilderness exploration, animal communication and writing. These “lost years” were rich in life experience that feeds the subject matter of my work.
I am most interested in the moments human experience deepens and, through intensity of feeling or understanding, we touch on something sacred and universal. In these moments I believe a bit of soul is drawn back to us through the fabric of everyday, the personal may touch the universal and an exalted experience of spirit is possible.
I paint to create a map to a place I experienced a particular reunion with soul, in the hope that each viewer touched by my painting will experience their own reunion.
My paintings are often inspired by universal places I visit in my visionary shamanic practice. But the essence I paint is always my own journey.
I paint what I know best. I mean know in the biblical sense. I have lived these moments and they have lived through me. There has been an uncontrollable flow of body fluids: sweat, blood, tears, generated in pain and joy. These moments are salty, real. They have teeth and sink new awareness into my being, enriching perspective with the kind of difference that can shift a life trajectory over time.
When I approach painting, I take some time to connect with the emotion and meaning I want to paint. I do this while I am mixing the colors. Often, I will match colors from a photo I take of the place that inspired the original experience or that feels connected to it somehow. Sometimes these are close-ups with colors we would not normally notice unless we bend down and get nose to nose with things. Sometimes I find a photo or online of something I connect with the experience. Sometimes the picture I connect with is from a magazine.
Mixing colors is a meditation for me that goes deep into the vibration of the experience and I often spend hours doing this. By the time the colors are ready, I am saturated in the experience and ready to paint it. I being to move and see how the experience I’m about to paint takes me toward the canvas. I dance with the feeling of the theme and lay out the basic sculptural form behind the paint. There is always a basic shape that dictates how movement (and the viewers eye) will flow through the painting.
Now I enter the painting dance with the movement that has evolved, connect deeply with the emotion of the theme and lay on colors with many shifts of direction and texture. My commitment is to stay with the meaning and carry it through until the painting is done. For me it is a shamanic journey through rewarding but difficult territory. Usually there is a doorway about halfway through where I have to step through my most difficult feelings about the subject. I paint through this. The painting will be living inside me until it’s done. If I can’t finish it throughout the night, I take a nap and pick it up again. Often I will include a little piece of the original photograph or page of the magazine I matched the colors from, as a kind of flag marking the journey.