My purpose as an artist is to discover, examine and create – to find inspiration. I like to keep things simple, but add emotion to the mix. My artistic influences are: Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Franz Kline, Paul Klee and Fritz Scholder.
Were there any early influences or mentors that you remember? Oh, yes. When I was at Syracuse University, I read about a local portrait artist. He was a well-known artist doing paintings of Winston Churchill and others. I decided to visit him at his studio. His name was Robert Hoffman. When I greeted him, I said, “Nice to meet you, Maestro.” I think he liked that I showed respect for his talent. He was in his eighties but going strong. He gave one-hour lessons to gifted students. I studied oil painting for three years, concentrating mostly on portraiture. During his life, Mr. Hoffman lived in many places around the world and spoke five languages. Every Sunday afternoon, other artists would meet in his studio and have lively intellectual conversations and sometimes sing. He told us that these get-togethers were just like the ones he attended in the cafés of Paris, France. We would also critique each other’s artwork. This experience was important because it taught me to except other viewpoints and criticisms. It was a good foundation to have as a young artist to be judged by my peers.
How has art changed your life and where do you go from here? I have always had a passion to explore the arts – in many forms. I think music adds to the mix – that’s why I like to play guitar and listen to music in general. The journey and exploration of life gives meaning to my art. A lot of times things happen by accident – the serendipity effect. I walk down this path and I learn. Paul Klee said: “Art doesn’t reflect what we see; it makes us see”. My dreams are another avenue that I like to embellish. The idea of the Yin and Yang philosophy shows up in my art, in a subtle manner, as well. Warm and dark, good and bad, push and pull – the list goes on. Symbols and color are another catalyst for my creative subjective matter. When you are open to change – change will come. Currently, I am discovering the possibilities of using barn wood (recycling / repurposing) and incorporating painting onto it. Thus, I am giving the object a new life - as a piece of art. For me, the whole process is quite natural and rewarding. I am just the vehicle that helps change thing around to a more creative outlook. On a personal level, having art in my life gives me validation as a human being. To wonder and be amazed are still beautiful qualities to have. I believe in the process of creating. It’s always about the journey.
You mentioned “the journey”, Can you elaborate more on this statement? I think it helps the serious artist to have a “power place”. This special place, a room or studio, is where the artist develops confidence and freedom. It is a haven for the journey of personal expression. All the distractions of life melt away and you can let your guard down. One might call it a dream or meditative state where the artist can labor, dwell and ponder over his work. In recent years, I have enjoyed going to places of power – the studios of important artists. One such interesting place I went to recently was Abiquiú, New Mexico. This is where Georgia O’Keeffe had her last studio. I think she chose this place as her special area to nurture her creative energy. The sunlight in this location seems to give the land an added beauty. Over the years, I have had many studios, but I wanted to build my own. I love Colorado and call it home. I call my studio the “Woodshed”. I wanted to work among the trees if I could. The land around Elizabeth Colorado is an extension of the Black Forest. Living here grounds me and helps me with my journey in art.
Does your art make a statement and what goals do you want to achieve? Any good art will find a place to live. I let my work speak for itself. As far as a goal, I would also like to continue to be associated with Spark Gallery in Denver, Colorado. They have a great group of artists who keep this gallery going. It is the oldest owned and operated co-op gallery in Denver.
Can you briefly walk us through your creative process? I look for inspiration first. Sometimes I make a mental note, for instance, when I am driving. I see a bird on a post or a nice shadow cast by a tree. When I do sketch, I try to keep it as simple as possible. Later on, I may enhance or develop certain ideas. For example, I may see a face of an animal in a piece of wood. It is a fluid process for sure. Sometimes I have to join pieces of wood together to get the effect I am looking for. I do like to work on at least three pieces at once. This gives me time to go back and refine areas that need it. By applying acrylic paint and varnish to the surface of the wood, I do the following: 1. Help preserve the wood and stabilize it.2. Make the natural organic features stand out.3. Give it new life as a piece of art. For me, working with barn wood is like holding time in your hands. This was a tree, then a barn, then it managed to get to me. Marble, steel and plastic do not have the same warmth and character. Barn wood is not refined and usually pretty beat up, but that is what I like to see in it. I merge wood and paint together. Like all creative processes, you learn as you go along. Working with barn wood is transforming and in no way lessen my interest in canvas painting or using watercolors, but rather, enhances and enriches it.
Any final thoughts for the readers? I used to always tell my students, “Don’t be afraid to experiment. Art welcomes experimentation. This is how you grow as an artist. Keep up the fight.” I also try to live by these words myself. Thanks for the interview Miss amelia, you're going to be a great reporter one day! this was fun!