Artist's Statement: 2024 Solo Exhibition

Blue Inside
Blue Inside
© 2023

I have been fortunate to travel more, to spend more time in the studio – and in my head – since retiring in 2021. Returning to some of my favorite places allowed me to revisit memorable scenes, while new destinations have inspired new focus.

Selecting images that I want to both learn from and to paint has always been a labored process. I still think of that work as “harvesting images,” as if a mule and plow are somehow involved, yet I never tire of balancing representational scenes with abstract elements.

For this show I felt free to charge ahead with fresh painting ideas more readily than I had in the past. Maybe I wanted to paint a particular shade of green or was drawn to a bright red rail. Maybe I wanted to paint some sheep. Yes, go for it! Paint more skies? Sure - even a sweeping vista I have seen before, but this time at dusk. Try a smaller format? Still “yes.” Yet I found that releasing self-imposed barriers did not make either the process or the painting any easier.

I felt free to not squelch new ideas, even the idea to re-exhibit an old painting. I then reinforced the themes of repurposing and reinterpreting by reusing frames from my inventory for some of the new work.

Some paintings consciously circle back to previous themes and subject matter. One example is the oil, ‘Above Fisher Lake II.’ This scene, from the small town where I grew up in Northern Wisconsin, was re-considered from the same vantage point I used 18 years earlier. So much of the place had changed, but I was still compelled to capture the feeling of moving beyond, out, and above. A familiar theme of boats and water was used in the trio of small, square oils, but this time the subject was re-interpreted through the subdued light and darker palette of an overcast day.

I traded a watercolor with my dear artist friend, Jody Williams, about 40 years ago. After she passed away in October of 2023, the painting ‘Light On’ came back in my possession. It offered me solace during the days and weeks following her death. I included it in this exhibition because I sensed it was in dialogue with a few of the new paintings in my studio. The watercolor ‘Sea and Shadows’ has similarities to the 1985 piece -- from the paint surface and simplified composition to its moody quiet.