My parents used to tell people that they knew by the time I was three years old that I would be an artist. In my youth, my drawings were inspired by nature: landscapes, treescapes, and horses. In my adolescence, I switched from pencil drawings to pen & ink and began refining my work with the detail for which I have become known.
Initially, trees were my preferred subject matter, inspired by dormant deciduous trees and enticed by the intricacies of spider-webbed branches framed against the sky; pen & ink as my primary medium was the perfect medium for these studies.
While I was an art student at New York University (graduating in 1968), I was introduced to Abstract Expressionism. I would be drawn to creating abstract oils and acrylics in the mid to late 1970s. My focus as an abstract expressionist was to utilize balance, composition, lines, shapes, and color to craft a completed painting. I came to understand that this was a wonderful learning experience: it was about problem-solving – as I applied each brushstroke I realized there was a new problem to solve within the context of creating balance in my asymmetrical compositions.
Putting Abstract Expressionism aside in 1979, I returned to my first love, pen & ink, creating what I defined as “emotional realism.”
In 1989, I became mesmerized with Chinese Brush painting when I first saw the works of Chinese artist Charles Chu. I took a week-long total emersion course in Duluth, MN during the summer of 1990 and then spent the next twenty-four years mastering the art form.
Though I continued Chinese brushwork, I was beginning to feel less enamored with it. It was around this time that I began what I called Feminine Mystique phase, an abstract series of pastel on lightly textured paper (2004-2008).
In 2008 I began my Birch Series, having felt a need to change my focus, Chinese Brush Painting no longer made my heart sing and the Feminine Mystique series felt complete.
Once again I felt the need to move to a different medium. In April 2014 I discovered pyrography.
I love the challenge of creating creatures of fur, feathers, or fins, exploring ways to bring life to each through the art of pyrography. When creating living beings, I always begin with the eyes to capture the essence/soul – an approach that comes from my Chinese brush training. Once I am satisfied with the eyes, I work on the rest of the piece, burning lightly, and then reworking with appropriate pens until I am satisfied.
My process involves the ‘magic’ of lines which, for me, define shapes and details that construct the three-dimensionality that is a defining characteristic of my artistry. I begin with an idea, sometimes inspired by the wood itself. I generally do not pre-sketch on the wood – preferring to begin each piece with pyrographic pens, though I do create a basic plan when I am cutting shapes with my scroll-saw. From pen & ink to pyrography with a variety of media in between; a natural leap. Pyrography is a visceral experience: I love the natural colors of burned wood, feeling no need to add color.