I grew up in a house on concrete stilts, fifteen feet above a cypress swamp in Chuluota, Florida, surrounded by the wild splendor of nature’s art. With burning fire sticks, I drew with light in the midnight air. I swam in the rippled skin of a lake speckled with alligator heads. Wrapped in a symphony of bullfrogs, I learned the colors and textures of mud and leaves and moss. The wilderness taught me to paint.
Art is a spiritual practice, not an academic exercise. Art is a lifelong meditation, which, at its best, leads both the artist and the audience into a deeper appreciation of the mystery of life. Curators refer to my work as “outsider art” because I paint without the conventions of academically trained artists. This “outsider” quality in my work makes it immediately accessible to a wide audience because viewers can feel the energy of color, texture and imagery without needing additional explanation.
According to the scrawled dates on loose artwork archived in an old cedar trunk, I learned to paint before I learned to walk. I painted skeletons on bicycles and women whose hair was wings. At night, in a swarm of mosquitoes held at arm’s length by the glow of a citronella candle, I painted a strange collection of forest beings I called The Winterlings. Half human, half beast, The Winterlings appear in many of my paintings and represent the union between humankind and nature.
After my childhood home burned down in a blaze so intense that it left an iron claw-footed tub twisted like a human ear, I moved to Sarasota where I studied by day and painted by night, earning a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science from New College of Florida while slowly building a body of paintings. Rather than study art academically, I chose to study the workings of nature, to study chemistry and physics and biology, so that I might create paintings from both a molecular and global perspective. By studying science, I began to see the similarities between blood flow and ocean currents, between neurons and cypress trees, between electrons orbiting a nucleus and planets orbiting a star.
My studies in organic chemistry helped me to create paintings with a heavily-textured, vitreous surface reminiscent of the swampscape of my childhood. Most of my mixed-media paintings are created using mineral pigments and high-gloss, preservative polymer. I even developed an ultraviolet protectant to ensure the longevity of the pigments. I often paint with unconventional tools including branches and spoons.
In terms of imagery, I explore natural and mythological themes ranging from figurative to abstract. My career was launched with my “Mask” paintings which evolved into my “Bouquets” and “Goddesses.” I have also had periods of creating “Poem” paintings and “Winter Trees.” After swimming in the iridescent waters of Belize, I began painting “Ocean” paintings which shimmer with two-tone pigments, rotating light in spectacular ways according to how I position them in layers of polymer.
By wandering through wilderness near my home in Seattle, I am inspired to create paintings which show the vibrant life lurking everywhere around us. Mythological beings rise up through dreamy landscapes and create a figurative bridge between wilderness and humanity.
We all need a deep breath of art, a long moment of looking at imagery which awakens our ability to feel. As an artist, I create paintings to both deepen and brighten the experience of living, to inspire the viewer to honor their own creative journey. I have been told that my artwork brings peace and presence into a home, hanging like a torch in a dark time, bringing warmth, giving light.