“If one considers the wonders of nature, then painting does not equal landscape. But if one considers the wonders of brushwork, then landscape does not equal painting.”
–Dong Qichang (Ming Dynasty 1555-1636)
My work explores the role paint plays in our psychic understanding of land; and the inverse, that our relationship with land influences our understanding of paint.
Raised in a family of geologists and artists whose ancestors took part in the settling and mapping of the American West, I’ve inherited an affinity for its geography, atmosphere, history, and the dynamics of our interaction with it. I’m particularly drawn to the desert, where I spend a lot of time walking.
In my paintings, a vocabulary of flows and aggregates of watercolor, pigment, salts, and sediments, geometric patterns suggesting temple floors and mud cracks, and relics of native textural materials are superimposed over cartographic skeletons derived from satellite photos and digital maps. Additional structural or conceptual restraints might include bisection with a flat horizon–often turned on end, or an organizational grid based on the size of the paper, or time limitations. The larger pieces are hung frameless, as maps.
These abstract paintings are doorways into a giddy, poetic, possibly spiritual–but illogical–way of perceiving specific places as if for the first time–disoriented, identifying landmarks, looking to the horizon for stability, trying to make sense of it all. They nudge viewers toward a sensory understanding of what makes places matter. Color, texture, and atmosphere are paramount; historical, scientific, and formal accuracy are peripheral concerns.
“The physical act of painting is itself mysterious, profoundly disorienting,” said Darren Waterston. Like walking, the act of painting is a sequential process of unfolding revelations and recognition. I’m continually amazed by the physical ability of sediment suspended in water to describe ephemeral experiences employing the same elemental forces that sculpt land.