Artist Statement

I use abstracted visual verse, unlimited in time and interpretation, leaning towards Les Automatiste’s manner of physical, intuitive painting. In the early 1940’s in Quebec, the painter Emile Borduas read the work of Andre Breton who spoke of the stream of consciousness. Borduas wanted to transpose the stream of consciousness onto canvas. It is the surfacing of the unconscious through painting that makes the unconscious visible. The present exists in response to the past. I find this difficult and challenging, which is why I am appreciative of Les Automatistes.

Shape, line and colour influence me. Painting is a diary of living. Sometimes I have referenced subject matter and sometimes not. Colour strokes colour, a line leads to a shape, which grows, then disappears only to return like an afterthought. The line pokes along, is swallowed then regurgitated to continue the game. These paintings grow out of each other and are products of a very visceral conversation with myself. I decide on what paint and colour to start with, whether it is full background colour or drawing. Everything will lead to something else.

I have also worked within traditional colour-field aesthetics as exemplified by Richard Diebenkorn until 2001 when my paint handling became less about a field and more about drawing in colour.

The dichotomy of destruction and creation has much in common with artistic processes. I want to excavate something intangible ‘below the surface’, in a process of applying and removing paint, scratching lines and tracking shadows. I imagine the artistic process to be somewhat like a force of nature, with large gestures and unusual ways of applying paint. The imagery conveys a sense of psychological movement by virtue of paint handling. These are very visceral paintings with surfaces that protrude in topographical relief.

From 2009 I began a new series called ‘Above’ that was a radical break from my previous colour concerns. I was observing car tracks in snow in the parking lot from my 2nd floor studio window. The stark black against white inspired me to begin ‘tracking’. Colour was applied in thin glazes and lines were continuously reasserted to bring them back to the surface of the painting. I used clouds as a leitmotif so the viewer is looking down from above. There is a very physical record of the mark making process that mimics the tracks in real life. This work occupies an intermediate zone between abstraction and figuration.

Sometimes my work is done in a day. That doesn’t happen very often. Some canvases take several months. They sit in incompleteness that takes awhile to have an answer. Sometimes I ruin them past the point of no return. A good example is a painting called Six Times Done. It has been completed how many times? A painting is done when it starts breathing and having a life of its own.

I also create compositions with autobiographical references like the set of circles titled Hollywood Wanted Me. I was looking at a notebook diary from the 80’s when in Mexico. I did a series of drawings for every day we were there. An old, thin man approached us and said his name was Jesus. We asked him where to get good boots. He later took us to many churches and became our tour guide. He said he was in the movie Vera Cruz with Gary Cooper, and they wanted him to dance. The series of circles became the story of Jesus with the title Hollywood Wanted Me, and there are a couple of scratched out figures in those. Painting is visual poetry.