Wildflower Field Project, Oil with wax and sand on panels. 32" x 144", 2011. The above painting was painted (from my photos) of a field of wildflowers I had grown when I lived in Jackson County. I had 2-3 acres tilled up and I planted black-eyed susans, cosmos, mexican hats, and various other varieties. Mostly for the birds.
Artist Statement After I had earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts, where I used a variety of art making materials, I mostly drew & painted - partly because painting and drawing don’t require much equipment or space. Starting in 1990, I created many plein air paintings, partly inspired by the exhibit, "Monet in the 90s: The Series Paintings” at the Art Institute of Chicago. I still paint outside from time to time.
Early in the 90’s, I returned to school to learn Photoshop - soon after the program came out. It was practical for getting a job, which I got at Sunrise, where I worked designing and sometimes illustrating ‘social expressions’ for about 10 years. After Sunrise’s collapse, I returned to school and worked on my Masters in Fine Arts, Visual Arts. My focus was painting and drawing along with some video. After working with computers, l was led back to actual paints because of their materiality. I enjoy the actual mixing of colors, the mental activity of drawing, and creating thick textures with paint - sometimes mixed with sand, wax medium, and sometime other materials. The videos I made were essentially stop-action animation created with paintings.
My focus has long been on nature. I studied subjects in college relating to ecology, botany, and global warming. Later I took classes on creating wildlife habitats, and organic gardening. From the late 1980s, I’ve lived at the edge of the woods (and in a small town for a bit). I have planted 1000s of trees and 10s of thousands of wildflowers - including an area at a county park (working with the park people). They are for my own and other's enjoyment, as food for wildlife, and to restore some wildness to the landscape.
In Art History, I have been attracted to art that expresses spontaneity, and that has a sense of spontaneity in execution. I learned about Zen Sumi painting as an undergrad and I applied the concept to most of the mediums I used, whenever it worked. These included watercolor, acrylic, oil, pastel, charcoal, etc. And ink, of course. While it is not the only technique I use, I feel like it is at the core of what I do. That is - getting to the sense of the thing, and transmitting it to paper, canvas or panel.
While working on my MFA, I considered concepts related to mortality - that is, to my own life, and also the state of the earth - ecosystems, and habitats. I was also interested in women’s issues - of agency and of being visible. During that time, I was introduced to several significant women who write about art and philosophy, including Mira Schor & Griselda Pollock. I studied the links in philosophy with materiality and feminism, along with ecology. That is when I created several pieces with skeletons incorporated into landscapes, followed by the ‘Women & Snakes’ series - using oil paint mixed with a wax medium (which I created) and sand.
Since 2011, I have had 3 main focus areas. Water, Black birds, and the Earth & Roses series. With the “Edge of Water” and “Hurricane Sandy” series I continued using oil paint with wax medium and sand. Both series were about capturing the sense of water, and the movement - with a lot of texture and layers. With “Hurricane Sandy,” it was also about the power, and the sense of being overwhelmed.
I started the Black birds series while I was commuting to a teaching job. I became very aware of the sky and the flocks of birds - various sorts of black birds, flying together. Over the years, I have noticed the increasing amount of jet trails, as more and more people fly. Depending on the weather the residue is more or less apparent. So the paintings are a basic juxtaposition of nature and human technology. Images of birds flying and the lines in the sky left by people traveling in huge jets.
My most recent group of paintings is the Earth & Roses series. I started this once I had my studio in the iFell building in Bloomington. I use oil on panel with palette knives - with no wax. While painting these, I am able to explore and become more acquainted with weather patterns and with geography. I become more aware of drought areas, and of how the clouds relate to the land. And then there are the roses. Roses are sentimental symbols - of affection, of beauty, love, women, and sometimes death. There are many interpretations and ways of considering the roses with the Earth - visually they complement the continents and clouds, a play of scale and color. They are open to interpretation and work on various levels of meaning, including rational and emotional, conscious and subconscious.