I started painting with a purpose when I was living in New York City in the 1970s, working as a landscape architect. As a designer I was asked to solve others' problems. As a painter I could create my own problems. It was the freedom that I was after. Over the years I have worked on paper, canvas and wood - and also seen most of what I originally made go up in smoke in a studio building fire over 15 years ago. That shock ultimately reminded me of what I believed in all along - that art, for me, is about attending to what is happening NOW. I then started to work less logically, primarily at a smaller scale, mostly in watercolor, until I discovered some old discarded wood panels in Maine that had once served as functional fruit crates. Their surfaces were imperfect but tough and I liked that the wood could be sanded because I revise things and change my mind a lot as I worked. Sanding also released the grain patterns. From a conceptual point of view I also liked that the wood box lids had originally come from a tree, then been transformed into milled lumber and repurposed by others. They were part of the nature / man narrative.
The recent pieces on wood are smaller and more 3 dimensional than much of my previous artwork. The discarded or rediscovered materials that I use get a pretty good working over. Mostly, I explore their forms and surfaces until I find the connection that I am after and the meaning and content emerge. Then I stop, that can be the hardest part. Stopping. When things are going well the abstract forms, shapes and textures come together and create a new landscape with its own scale and order.
When I was a landscape architect (a long time ago), I was trying to order the physical environment, design with people’s needs in mind - art with a function. When I was a pure landscape painter (also a long time ago) I tried to capture natural space, its light and its momentary appearances - art at a distance. These days, I am trying to balance myself on that same bridge to the physical world, one that can carry me back and forth as freely as possible.