My work consists of closely observed studies from nature that, once distilled, undergo a transformation into larger-than-life versions of themselves. My aim is to explore the exquisite beauty of simple and complex structures in the visual world, and to express my own wonder by capturing the essence of some detail—be it a bird’s nest or a flower—and to recreate it in a new way. I have been pursuing this method since the 1970’s when I studied with my mentor and teacher, Philip Guston. He contributed to my development as an artist as a speaker of the essential truth, always reminding me of the absolute necessity of being brutally honest with oneself. “I want to paint a world as if it has never been seen before, for the first time” he said, “that’s what I have to do to make painting worthwhile.” I, too, believe in the discovery and revelation of the natural world as the object of painting.
My own studio practice centers on transformation and distillation: a pile of pine needles under a tree, a roll of tape, a wobbly fence—these are elements that find their way into my work unselfconsciously. The geometric possibilities of form, light, color, and space on a horizontal plane have always captivated me. More recently, my attention has turned to gardens, parks, and the pathways in and around them, as well as the fences that contain them. I study plants, flowers, birds, and pinecones on daily long walks. The revelatory effect of this observation often hits me very strongly, and I feel compelled to return to my studio in order to quickly record sensations in sketch form. The rest of my time in the studio is spent absorbing what I have seen and converting these studies into highly distilled, large format works on paper.
I work on paper because the connection between inspiration and imagery to the stroke of my hand is that much closer and more immediate. Mark making has always been an important element in my drawings and paintings and the freedom that paper affords me (as well as the traditional materials of charcoal, ink and pastel) has enabled me to take risks in the evolution of my work. My most important breakthroughs have happened in the unselfconscious state that working with these materials on paper affords me.