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For billions of years planet Earth has been on a continuous course of transformation. Earthquakes, volcanoes, planetary collisions, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, and now the dire effects of climate change have all left their indelible marks of transition and destruction. Rock materials, both large and small, represent tangible markers of past environmental episodes and contain important clues about Earth’s endurance and adaptability. Even the tiniest stone has its own story to tell. How did this rock begin, where did it come from, and what on Earth made it look this way? As I produce paintings of rocks and their surfaces, many elusive and improbable answers come to mind.

This painting series entitled “Formations” represents a gateway to a distinct range of design elements and patterning found in actual rock materials. But why paint images of rock formations? In brief, when I look at rocks I see all kinds of imaginative paintings created through natural processes. Rocks bring together details of Earth’s history in a most artful way. Rocks are majestic in appearance, long on resilience, rich in detail, and very original. No two rocks are exactly alike. The process of bringing forth a rock’s diverse patterning, complex textures, intriguing color variations blends well with my interests and painting style.

Producing work related to design elements in rock surfaces makes me think about the infinite role rock formations play in helping us understand the extensive evolutionary processes which have taken place on Earth. More than just a pretty face, each rock is an ancient treasure trove of information about worlds long forgotten, worlds we think we know right now, and even future worlds as we think about environmental changes. Concepts related to intertwined/incorporated, previous/present worlds gently remind us who and where we are, what has happened before us, and what might very well happen after us.

Early on the relationship between rocks and "other worlds" took on new meaning when I dug up a fossil delicately coated with tiny seashells in my landlocked hillside backyard. To my young mind, this remnant of a vanished underwater world was something special. My new-found treasure made me wonder about a different life that may have occurred above and below this same piece of property. Perhaps even more exciting, this piece of earth that I called "home" may have originated in a completely different location. More rock-related experiences followed and still intrigue me. There has been no turning back—rocks and their visual attributes make each painting an adventure.

Now to the art of creating paintings of rocks. Producing each painting requires discovery, analysis, and interpretation of sometimes unseen natural surfaces. My photographs of rock segments taken in Northern California areas such as Pacific Grove, Pescadero, and Point Lobos provide a starting point for gathering information for an upcoming painting. Studying the details in each photograph brings me to “the heart of the matter” as I enter a world of hidden lines and shapes just waiting to be noticed and explored. After selecting a patterned segment that meets certain criteria, the subject matter is “ready” to come alive on canvas using multi-layered brushwork. No doubt an engaging journey awaits me as I proceed to depict a subject’s challenging contents.


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