Ideas and Process

I walk the tightrope between the conceptual and the instinctive "not knowing" present in the sensual, pressured, rapid, physical making of my work. I'm excited by the continuous interchange of form and energy on so many levels of life with all the hopes that dynamic processes offer and the turbulent danger of unexpected outcome.

When I began in the '70's, my work was spare and reductive with no room for the idiosyncratic. Homogeneity of surface and energy formed a tense, hermetic presence. I felt cornered!  I needed to make work with a fuller range of feeling, with a larger arena of options, spawning unpredictable paintings that couldn't be completed in my head.

Finally, its present form began to emerge. Not a gestural inventory of marks but rather a complexly drawn matrix of energy and form that cannot be sequentially unraveled. Changing configurations repeat and evolve from my first touch, as cells may develop to form an organism, where the coding within tells it what it will become. My own physical energy, visible and palpable in the work and its making, affirms for me the human and the unpredictable in an increasingly impersonal world.

To begin, I cover the ground (a gesso ground covered by a thin layer of iridescence) with a calligraphic pencil understructure - as a "grisaille." It is a grid-skeleton of writing that does not form a readable language but serves rather as a rhythmic, repetitive pulse. Writing the grid is a meditation, a way of beginning, a ritualized activity and a reminder that language is a constant filter for our experience. It is an invitation to read the unreadable. It has affinity to music ---the bodyʼs rhythms --- the flow of water --- of flux --- and of repetition --- and is the prelude to the act: to paint.  As the painting develops and the "writing" becomes partially obliterated, it serves to compound the pictorial space and offers sometimes just a glimpse of its origins.

I'm intrigued by phenomena of chaos science where the most imperceptible variations that occur at the beginning of a natural process lead to vastly different outcomes. I'm excited by a quest for a life that is vital and in flux -from subatomic particle streaks to glimpses of the rings of Saturn. From the Deluge Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci to the mazes of Piranesi and Johann Sebastian Bach, from the fullness of the empty spaces of Cezanne to quattrocento painting- from Mozart to Mondrian to Agnes Martin. From the Eden of Monet to the cosmologies of Cy Twombly and Jackson Pollock to the muscularity of the Baroque and the passions of Tintoretto. I'm lured by the expressive force of Baroque art, the crescendo towards a center, with volume moving out into the viewer's space, and I'm lured by its opulence. While the movement in the Baroque hurtled towards heaven, my energy and its expansive power of space and form express a different quest for spiritual meaning in a different time.

I work as rapidly as I can on only one painting at a time with wet on wet acrylic paint. The use of this material with the flow of water as its solvent pushes my physical engagement into an intense, pressured and highly focused process, forcing me to have a rapid, instinctive response to what has already gone down, a parallel in itself of the growth process. Changing configurations repeat and evolve from my first touch, as cells may develop to form an organism, where the coding within tells it what it will become.

The palette is tuned to a range of specially mixed metallic and iridescent colors which serve to evoke both the man-made and the elemental. The white pathways are removed paint (not white pigment) drawn and scraped rapidly while the paint is still wet. The fine grid-like lines --- also drawn by removal, simultaneously suggest containment fields, networks, coordinates. They are ordered, ordering --- and disordered by the force of form and flux, pressing forward and holding back. The paintings are not gestural inventories of marks deployed across the surface --- but rather a complexly drawn matrix of form and energy that cannot be sequentially unraveled.

Scale plays a large role in decisions I make about my painting. As human beings, we are not the measure but the measurers of all things. Our sense of scale is at the foundation of the working structure of our lives. It locates us in place, space and time, from our genes to the galaxies. Physics and metaphysics are meeting at a vanishing point we donʼt know. My painting has for some time used my own body reach and size as a measure to determine the arena where the multiple relationships of form and flux occur, with the implication that these processes continue beyond the stretcher boundaries. We are only watchers at a fixed vantage point. Always attracted to polar opposites, Iʼve also moved that vantage point to view a smaller field. A recent group of paintings, 2ʼ and 2 1/2ʼ squares, though small in size, are large in scale. They are, in a sense, occurrences --- events --- happening at specific coordinates in a quadrant of a large continuum. They declare their own presence, their own monumentality.

My work, though driven by abstract invention, serves as a metaphor for primordial energy connecting to both nature and the psyche. My own physical energy is visible and palpable in the work and its making, affirming the human and the unpredictable in an increasingly impersonal world.