The process of painting is what I like. It’s what I enjoy doing - the technical machinations of the job - deciding what to paint - the composing/structuring of the painting - the drawing with paint - the mixing of paint and the dance of color on the canvas/panel - the surface texture growing into its final form.
I usually start a painting from life/plein air or a photograph I’ve taken. Then I recompose it and add or subtract elements. At this point I quickly paint a fairly well rendered image covering the entire surface with paint - usually a thin coat.
Often this is when I set the painting aside (but within view). I regularly have more than a dozen paintings I’m actively working on, all at different stages of development, in my studio.
After the initial covering of the canvas, I slow down and do a lot of looking. The paintings take on a life of their own. I put away the initial source material and just look at the painting.
I let it talk to me. It becomes its own world apart from me, but an imperfect world which I then fix. That’s what this part of the process is for me - fixing one problem, then another. Eventually I find nothing to fix.
Painting is my primary occupation now - in the sense that it’s what I do whenever I can. I am a social person, a son, a husband, a brother, an uncle with lots of friends from different places I’ve lived and different paths I’ve taken. So there are demands on my time, but I always want to paint more and find myself drawn to my studio to paint.
Painting is the most challenging pursuit I’ve ever faced and the most enjoyable! Interestingly, I am simultaneously frustrated about what I’m trying to do but also elated with my progress.
I was born in Lexington where I attended the University of Kentucky and spent the first 23 years of my life. I’ve lived in Miami, San Francisco and now Cincinnati, Ohio, where I reside with my partner, now husband, for the past 40 years.
My art education and influences are atypical. I did study art during my secondary education, but it was a time (late ’60’s) when basic drawing skills were not being stressed. We did cover art history with trips to to the National Gallery in D.C. and other museums.
Between my junior and senior year in high school I was part of an exchange program of the English Speaking Union which enabled me to spend a summer in England and visit the art museums in London, Oxford, and Edinburgh. For a week I was hosted by a family in Bristol and introduced to plein air painting. The father was a history professor who was a Sunday painter. This intrigued me and he was kind enough to take me along on one of his outings. I was 15, and that short time we spent together left an impression.
The beginnings of my artistic endeavors were in photography. I was given the opportunity to be our high school photographer. There was a darkroom and a professional photographer, Rolland May, who took the standard photos of all the kids on “picture day”. He taught me the basics of developing and processing film and prints. My dad built a small darkroom for me in our basement. I took a good deal of the photos for our year books and had several pictures published in the local paper. As an undergraduate at UK, I continued with photography receiving a grant to produce a series of pictures of the UK campus. The results were my first one man art show at the Fine Arts Center on the UK campus.
Working in photography - and particularly black and white photography - made me concentrate on composition, values, contrast and focus (which translates to edge treatment in painting). So years later when I took up painting seriously I already had a good sense of these primary pieces of painting - composition, values, and edge treatment. But of course that left a lot to learn.
I had tried my hand at oil painting after my visit with the Sunday painter in Bristol. I bought a starter kit with the basic colors, some linseed oil, an inexpensive canvas board and a few brushes. I then copied the Robert Wood seascape that hung above the couch in my parent’s home. To my surprise it was quite good. I didn’t continue painting, partly because at the time it seemed too easy.
I continued with photography and dabbled in stained glass, pottery, sculpture, fiber art, paper making and drawing. I took workshops and classes, never losing my interest in art. I traveled a lot, visiting museums, and at the same time reading about art.
When I retired at 40, I started to paint again. It wasn’t as easy as I had previously thought. Copying images still came easily, but when I tried to paint from life I realized I was starting from the beginning. So I practiced drawing and painting and started taking classes at the University of Cincinnati and the Art Academy of Cincinnati. I also took workshops with many artists in Cincinnati and around the country.
Now I am both an artist and a student of art. And that’s what is good about painting for me. The challenge doesn’t stop. It’s like watching a great movie that doesn’t end, or taking a class that you love that will go on forever or going on a perfect road trip that is never ending.
A group of fellow artist and I have been painting together regularly for years. I also participate in drawing/painting sessions at the Manifest Drawing studio and conduct an open studio group through the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
As to what I paint - well, it changes. I’ve just got into the habit of painting, and things develop out of that. I paint from life - figures, interiors, landscapes and most recently figures in the landscape. Some are quick sketches and others become paintings that I continue to develop over time. I have the habit of painting over works that I don’t want to keep, so many of my paintings have one or more other paintings underneath.
I have painted quite a bit of commissioned work, but seldom accept commissions now.
Most paintings are available - see Contact page
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