Through my post-graduate days of experimentation, my work quickly evolved from abstracted landscapes to non-objective mark making and field painting. The challenge became how to apply the paint and charcoal in interesting ways. I made the inevitable connection to the mark making and action painting of the New York School. Several years after graduate school, I had a renewed interest in depicting the land and sky. Regionalists influenced me less stylistically than philosophically. Unlike Benton, Wood, and Curry, I knew the Midwest intimately. I farmed for my entire youth and into my early 20’s. I grew up with the idea of making art about the landscape that was around me, but my painting had changed to the non-objective. Slowly I moved to representational depiction, incorporating much of the mark making, treatment of materials, and composition of my abstract days. In this way I achieve a new synthesis in my work of representation and the vigor of mark making.
The charcoal and pastel drawings use clouds as a departure point and the reference material I use for the paintings are landscapes. Occasionally, the work moves from the representational to abstraction.
About My Work
I am attracted to larger sizes because the viewer is drawn into the image in a more complete way.
The drawings are make with charcoal and pastel on large sheets of Rives BFK rag paper ranging in size from 22 x 30 in. sheets to the larger 48 x 36 in. sheets.
I use a wide variety of erasers, including electric erasers. The erasers work as the white or lighter shading
in the drawings. I really like to scrub and scumble down to the paper level. This technique situates the
image into the paper not on top of it. The road subject is a common theme for me. It relates to the
unimproved, unmaintained, dirt roads found in rural places that represent the significance of work and
beauty to me.
The paintings are created using oil stick or encaustic stick on board. Oil stick is a wax and oil medium
formed into a cylindrical bar or crayon form much like oil pastels. They come from different manu-
facturers in a variety of sizes, hardness, colors, and saturation. I use them all, including oil pastel, for the
ranges of expressive application. I love their use in relation to drawing. They provide me with the ability
to layer aggressively. The surface provided by encaustic allows the viewer to see the medium simul-
taneously with the illusionistic image.The particular weeds I choose--sumac, golden rod, broom grass -
are common to Nebraska and recall memories of my time in the country.
Even the Kyoto landscape of gardens I visited in Japan refers back to the hours I spent as a child on the banks of creeks.
What I love about monotypes is that the medium is somewhat uncontrollable. I am usually surprised with the resulting image. They are drawn with softer encaustic sticks. I paint directly on a plastic or metal plate. The paint transfers to the paper in the printing press or by using a large rolling pin. The process acts like quick oil sketches while often providing a complete, finished, single image. I often run the plate through the press once or twice more to reveal a fainter image called ghost images. These images are often equal to or better than the first pass. Sometimes I enhance the image with the use of pastels.
I’m particularly looking for contrast, mark making, and high color in all of these works. It’s important to me to push through the initial stages of an image’s development until it reaches a point that I consider to be art. This approach digs into my work ethic and emotional connections to memory and awareness of nature that result in a personal interpretation of a scene.