Hang Out #2, Old Woman Springs Rd, Lucerne Valley, CA
Hang Out #3, Old Woman Springs Rd, Lucerne Valley, CA
The Island, acrylic on panel, 24″x30″, 2014
My largest piece to date, a long-gestating idea for a Bocklin tribute piece. I wrote about my love for The Isle of the Dead here. This finished piece differs greatly from my original color sketch, but I’m satisfied with the darker nightscape to compliment the gloomy mood of the island. I had to figure out some landscape details that I wasn’t very experienced with, namely painting the moon shining through a thin layer of clouds and the ocean waves reflecting under the moonlight. I feel like I took a step forward with this painting in regards to my technique, as now I can use what I’ve learned on future pieces. Perhaps I’ll paint a few more versions of this one, just as Bocklin did.
The Island sketch
Specimen #1- Drowned Maidenflower, acrylic on panel, 14″ x 11″, 2014
This is the first of many imaginary plant portraits I hope to paint. I’ve always kept the scope of my paintings pretty wide, but I often find myself drawn to the details of my landscapes, especially the plant life that resides on the edges of the wastelands. With these new botanical pieces, I hope to explore what’s growing beneath the pines and cypress trees, what’s tucked between the boulders, what’s hidden in the shadows of the towers. I’m really excited about creating this new aspect of the Black Tower mythos.
Specimen #1 sketch
The Fountain, acrylic on panel, 11″ x 14″, 2014
This painting was based on a photo of mine from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. I’ve always used my photos for reference, but I’ve never tried to actually recreate so much of one photo into a painting. There was just something that really struck me about the original picture and the different colors of the low-hanging clouds contrasting with the shadowed land. I get such an epic feeling from this simple land formation under a gathering of clouds that is basically a daily summer occurrence on the Nebraska plains. Still, this image has always felt special to me, and now it’s served as a color sketch for my painting. The bleeding fountain trunk was from a sketch for another planned painting, but the two pieces just seemed to snap together in a kind of epiphany moment for me. There is still enough natural beauty in the world to make one forget that the beauty itself is in danger. Even the most brilliant sky can look down on a clearcut forest.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, NE
I’m constantly looking at the sky and taking mental notes as to the colors and shapes I see. The transition of color from horizon to sky-center is always of great interest to me, as well as the layering of clouds in contrast to those colors. I find it especially difficult to paint clouds that look like they are truly part of the skyscape, and not just objects placed in front of a blue backdrop. With each new painting I try to further my understanding of the layering of different cloud types, from stratus to cumulus to cirrus and all that lies in between. There is just so much damn space up there! I don’t want my skies to look like you would eventually crash into a ceiling if you flew up into them. Most of my landscapes are composed from my imagination, but these images are fueled by the actual places I have seen (giving me a great excuse to travel around for research). By referencing my real-life photos, I’m hoping to infuse my landscapes with more natural characteristics that one might recognize, whether consciously or subconsciously. We’ve all seen thousands of skies, thousands of clouds and sunsets and storms. I feel like the mind picks up on the details of these daily visions, and that seeing a painting that depicts a place with even one recognizable detail allows the viewer to feel more connected with the work. I absolutely love the paintings of Bocklin and Friedrich, but I don’t necessarily want to paint the worlds they painted. Sure, it would be amazing to be to be able to paint whatever I wanted and have it be a masterwork every time, but I most want to be able to just paint images that I feel satisfied with. I want to sit back and look at a painting and be able to say “that is the best I can do”. I’m trying to get better, working to create a voice made up of all the great parts of the painters that inspire me, but I need the sum of those parts to be my own. Right now I’m in a good place. My art is calling me to it on a daily basis, and I’m enjoying every minute that I sit over a wood panel and push paint around. I will get better. I will paint as best I can.