Has daydreaming ever gotten you into trouble?
It was 1978 and I was 12 years old when my teacher grabbed me by the ear and yanked me up in front of the class claiming she called my name three times - I didn't hear a thing. I’m afraid my daydreaming didn't appeal to her at all.
If I fell into a vat of toxic waste and suddenly possessed a Marvel super power I would hope it would allow me to slow and lengthen each day - more time to learn, discover and paint. With a consuming imagination I've never been bored a day in my life. A healthy imagination makes ordinary moments spectacular!
With an artist for a father I was introduced to the art world at a young age. I still have vivid memories of the Laguna Arts Festival and trips to the museums back in the early ‘70s. That exposure and the encouragement of my parents fostered an on-going thirst for knowledge and a deep desire to create art.
High school (Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, Alaska) was a time of experimentation – okay, not that kind of experimenting, I’m talking about art here - playing with all the styles and directions I could find, from Cubism to Impressionism, with charcoal, watercolor, pastel, assemblage, clay, printmaking, anything I could get access to. I had a fantastic teacher, Norma Sharma from Austria, who not only taught well, but found opportunities for shows that eventually led to me winning the Congressional Art Award.
I was blessed to grow up in inspiring places - with ocean views near San Juan Capistrano, in the woods and creeks of Western Montana and eventually the Alaskan Frontier – maybe that’s why I feel at home wherever I go – I want to paint it all. After all my exploration, Impressionism and Realism (Naturalism) seemed the closest connection to express my fascination with the colors and textures and infinite variety found in nature.
The term ‘plein-air painting’ is on every artist's tongue today, but when I started going out on location with watercolors and pastels in the mid 80's I had never heard the phrase. That was risky business in Fairbanks, Alaska because the mosquitoes there could carry away a small moose. I didn't realize how important that process of working from life was at the time, I just wanted to have my favorite subjects right in front of me.
Pastels became my primary medium for several years. They were a valuable way to learn color – placing one distinct hue next to another helped me discover directly the visual and psychological impact of color relationships and proximity.
College focused my energy on solidifying my color and design, draftsmanship and technical skills. Some of my instructors included Leon Parson (top of his class graduate of Art Center in Pasadena) and Arlo Coles (master of French and Russian Impressionism). Leon was and still is a demanding instructor and incredibly skilled illustrator/fine artist and Arlo ignited a passion within me for Russian Impressionist imagery and techniques.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming was only a couple hours from Ricks College (now BYU Idaho - I went there after joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). One of my most profound experiences occurred at the National Museum of Wildlife Art where I sat on a bench in a round room with walls covered in Carl Rungius’ paintings. Tears slipped down my cheeks. The work was so beautiful. I asked a simple prayer that someday my art would be that good, and touch someone’s heart like those paintings did mine.
After six years painting primarily en plein air, I began working a lot more in the studio with periodic outdoor expeditions. I am outdoors learning the effects of light and color all the time, everywhere I go I am studying nature; I love it, that’s why I paint flowers and landscapes. Plein air and direct painting allow me to fully engage all my senses and judge values and atmospheric effects that can’t be seen or learned from photos. The studio is a time to see clearly what I am placing on the canvas - greater subtlety and color nuance – and develop further using my imagination what I experienced in the field.
The goal is to use as little detail as possible to convey an image so the viewer’s imagination participates and allows them to experience my original enthusiasm, wonder and awe. "Flowers seem so alive" collectors often comment that "I can smell the fragrance".
On-location studies, memory, imagination and digital photos are my references to create my naturalistic works. My desire is to help viewers feel like they are looking out a window or doorway into a beautiful scene, one that beckons to forget the world for a while and simply enjoy the peace and serenity, the incredible beauty Heavenly Father has provided.
My artwork has sold consistently through galleries since 1983. I was one of the featured artists in Southwest Art Magazine’s “Artists to Watch” section. I am in numerous national and international collections from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia and throughout the United States and Canada.