Seeing my paintings, I think that a viewer can’t miss my focus on color. On a recent visit to my studio, an architect friend of mine, looking at a wall filled with paintings, asked me what my favorite color was. I explained to her that naming a favorite color is an impossibility because the appearance of each color in a painting depends on every other color and every shape and every brushstroke in the painting. Color does not exist alone.
A famous critic said that paintings are either more like a story or more like music. My paintings are more like music built with color and shape. Like music my work is abstract, but it is an abstraction that unfolds in space instead of time as music does. The space in painting, based on the interplay between color and shape, is a perceived space inside the flatness of the canvas. When you look at my paintings, you will see some color shapes appear to be in front of other shapes, like a red shape against a blue field. Unlike the space in a realist or academic painting which is built on a system of artificial perspective developed in the Renaissance, my painting is built on a Modernist conception of space that is more like a choreography of active shapes. A red shape pulls forward against a blue ground, but the blue ground is constructed to also pull forward in front of the red shape. Of course, the shapes don’t actually move. Instead they press forward in our perception creating a system of opposing spatial pressures. We, the viewers, feel this choreography of spatial pressures as vitality in the composition. By composing these spatial pressures, I work to make my paintings active, open, fluid, and expansive. This is the way that color and form and paint handling become expression. In the words of the great abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann, this is how “matter becomes spirit”.
Early in my career, I painted figures, but I increasingly felt too constrained in my use of color. Modeling the figures prevented the color in my work from having the full radiant presence that I wanted from color. In my work, I am striving for lightness and expansiveness, for an open, breathing, vivid composition of colors. And, while I seek a buoyant expansiveness in my color composition and paint handling, I am also working for a measured, carefully ordered composition, a classical feeling of calm balanced against the exuberant expansiveness of color.
The last thing that I would ever do as a painter is to copy myself. In order for a painting to come alive, it must be animated by the painter’s force of expressive intention. And there is no formula that can capture that force of intention. To bring a painting to life requires the delicate and carefully constructed interplay of all the visual elements in a painting which are too complicated and too subtle to simply be copied or repeated. That is why I hope for viewers of my work to notice every detail, the large configurations of shapes and the small visual events of brushwork and color. Everything in each painting has been deliberated, every raggedness of edge, every shift in color or texture, every drip is there because it is important to the overall unity and dynamic of the composition and to the precision of the painting’s expression.