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 hold 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?
The Formations paintings focus on intricate surface patterning found on actual rock materials. Why paint images of rocks? I have always been inspired by the aesthetics of rocks and how those rocks came to be. As I study rock materials, I envision future paintings showing an array of intersecting lines and shapes which at some point in time had been etched into weathered surfaces. I think about the majesty and mystery of those rocks, their delicate balancing act between permanence and transience, their limitless originality (no two rocks are alike), and their turbulent history of survival.
Not just a pretty face, each rock is an ancient treasure trove of details about worlds long forgotten, worlds we think we know right now, and even subtle predictions for future worlds. Early on rocks and "previous worlds" took on special meaning for me when I unearthed a fossil adorned with tiny seashells in my landlocked hillside backyard. This remnant of a vanished underwater world made me wonder about a different life that may have occurred above and below this property I called "home". Just as compelling, this property may have "travelled" from a distant place to its current location, perhaps marking yet another geological moment in time. Endlessly revising themselves, these earthly works in progress we call "rocks" give me much to think about and much to paint.
Discovery, analysis, and interpretation are key elements in the process for selecting each painting's subject. My photographs of rock segments taken in a number of Northern California areas provide a starting point for gathering information. Studying 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 a new adventure awaits me as I proceed to depict a subject’s challenging contents.
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