The natural landscape has always inspired me. I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania surrounded by the rolling hills of Amish farmland, and the woods that surrounded our house. I spent hours and hours of solitary playtime in those woods, and feel most at home in nature. New England, and particularly the Maine landscape was a pure revelation to me when I arrived here in my thirties. Everything was different… the trees, the skies, the rocky coast. It was a feast for my eyes! In a way I’m glad to be “from away”...I think it makes me more appreciative of the startling beauty of this special place.
The strongest influences in my art have been the art of the Fauves, who were painting at the turn of the last century in Europe. I was introduced to the Fauves by a very influential teacher, Pat Lispky, an Abstract Expressionist, and professor at Hartford Art School. After taking her class and not really clicking personally with non objective painting, she observed my work and suggested that I look up the Fauves. I was instantly smitten with their bold colors, wild splashes and strokes of paint, abstracted landscapes, and abstracted compositions. Also, the fact that their work celebrated the natural world was key for me; I had found a way of painting that spoke to my soul! After many years of experimentation, I was able to combine aspects of both the Fauve style and Abstract Expressionism.
What I loved about Abstract Expressionism was the goal that the painting be synoptic, or able to be seen as a whole, with no particular focal point, and with all the elements balanced. This really creates a lively effect of having your eyes dance all around the picture. Into that balance was also the necessity of tight color relationships. My work starts with being inspired by a scene in nature, either by a photo I have taken or even a memory or snapshot from a video of a place. I make a very simplified sketch, knowing that the real work for me happens with the points of color, which come to me as I paint. When I think of the picture, I first decide what kind of mood I want to illicit. That determines the ground color that I use that goes down on the canvas first. After the sketch is down, it is really like completing a puzzle, except the solution comes as I paint.
This is where color relationships play a key role. Each point of color is not only important because of its role in the subjective picture, but also in relation to the ground color, which shows through and is a visible part of the finished piece. Many people have commented to me that my paintings remind them of mosaics. This pointillist style evolved over time as a solution to my wanting to be more expressive on the canvas with my paint. When I began painting I had the habit of trying to depend on line and the act of drawing. It was a way to release myself from that and to paint in a way that was more expressive and free form.
To me, it is absolutely thrilling to paint this way. I never really know how something will turn out, as each stroke is a reaction to the one that came before it. It really is like putting together a puzzle without a picture to go by. Ultimately I am trying to uplift people through my images. Just like I was so thrilled by my first discovering the Fauves, I’d like to think that my bright colors, simple compositions, and the way my points of color dance across the canvas evoke a feeling of joy in those who view my work.