In the body of work I refer to as Impressions, I create paintings that hover between abstraction and representation. At once reveling in the rich materiality of the paint and the pure expression of color, my layered brushstrokes give way to vast seascapes, brooding coastal mountains, and light-infused watery plains.
To me, the act of painting is a means of transcribing the intangible elements of place—our spiritual, emotional, and cultural connection to the landscape—through the language of form and colour. The suggestion of earth, sea, and sky in these paintings is neither literal nor specific. Rather, each work is borne of an internal place of memory, experience, and imagination. Their purpose is not to simply record the surface details of our world, but rather to capture the beauty and meaning of our connection to it; emotions and memories evoked in the fleeting effects of light reflecting off the ocean’s surface, or the grey mists settling upon coastal islands, partially obscuring them from view. The resulting impressions of a place invite the viewer to connect with the paintings through their own associations and experiences. The paintings encourage a contemplation that transcends mere seeing, attempting to convey a more subtle, emotional understanding of one’s surroundings.
In Interruptions I explore the interaction between humans and their natural environment through the language and history of painting. Living in Vancouver, BC—a city of spectacular mountain and ocean vistas punctuated by glass and steel linear structures—one is constantly confronted by the proximity of nature and the gradual reshaping of our environment by human expansion and its accompanying infrastructure. In these paintings, I look at paths cut through the landscape for development as well as the shifting chemistry of our oceans and atmosphere and I attempt to find a sublime beauty and visual order in these compromised vistas while also contemplating the environmental questions they pose.
Having studied art history and history of architecture at the University of British Columbia in the 1970’s, my work has been informed by the legacy of modernism in the region. I have found the movement’s hard-edged and stripped-down aesthetic language to be a useful starting point from which to form a new vision of landscape painting; one that articulates the conflicted beauty of our altered environment. Clean, precise lines cut through loose, emotive colors and brushwork, segmenting the natural world into bands of sea, earth and sky; exploring the tensions which exist between order and chaos, the natural and man-made.
These broader themes also reflect a more personal exploration of my painting process: the chaos and order that coexist in the act of creation. An intellectual engagement with my medium is reflected in compositional choices: structural divisions and the arrangement of flat or defined bands of color. With these elements, I address the tradition of abstraction and attempt to guide and impose order upon my intuitive impulses and emotional responses to place. However, undulating within the segmented spaces, my loose, organic brushwork prevails; an authentic expression of the energy and freedom of creativity.