Portraits From The Landscape
I work almost exclusively with the subject of balanced rocks because it allows me to explore materials and meanings in depth without the distraction of other narratives much like in my meditation practice when I clear my mind to discover the subtleties of a single breath. In the one, there are many. I draw them, paint them, build them, photograph them, illustrate them and install them in natural and urban settings. The concept and practice of balance has become more popular and socially relevant as we seek antidotes to our fast paced and increasingly technological existence. Myriad dualities coexist in a single image that at once recalls both gravity and support, tension and calm, yin and yang, human and nature, portrait and landscape.
My early installation work hearkened to the the traditional use of cairns to mark a place. Precarious organic structures heckling the colossal urban structures that grab up our real estate and displace our natural environment. These mysterious structures offset the urban experience with the joy of creative community. I delight in the idea of someone happening upon an ephemeral sculpture that I left behind on the beach or on a street corner, empirical evidence of human intervention that connects viewer to artist in a sure albeit fleeting way.
As I became more proficient at balancing, I noticed there is a moment in the process when I realize a certain arrangement will work if I have the patience to persevere. A unique personality nearly ready to stand on its own emerges like a faint whisper encouraging me to keep trying. I began to photograph them from the most anthropomorphic vantage point and the parallels between rocks and humans grew. Like us, the rocks are erect beings, verterbreal and transient. My photos are often reminiscent of tourist photos or head shots.
In my paintings, I try to maintain a classical figure drawing style and use mostly charcoal for my blacks. Whenever the line quality becomes lost, I reintroduce it, often laying dry material on top of paint to maintain a strong reference to drawing. A bold outline surrounds the form much like our skin encapsulates our human bodies, mysteriously containing us as we travel through life.
Rocks piles are my muse, not my model. With the exception of one structure which I use repeatedly, the forms are illustrations fabricated from my personal experience and countless thousands of images I've seen that run the gamut from ancient structures to the seemingly impossible work of contemporary land artists. The result is an iconic form that triggers an ancient memory of ourselves as part of our own landscape, responsible for and reliant on it.
In my most recent work, I strive to recreate in paint the same process that I use for my sculptures. I push with light and dark, tone and color until the overall effect reveals a form in a state of balance. There is little difference between the inside and the outside, the figure and its ground. I blend complementary colors that sit on opposite sides of the color wheel to create complex neutral tones symbolizing a much needed compromise in which bits of the original colors still exist but the result is one that is richer in its complexity than either were apart.