I have been interested in art since 1980 when I started taking art classes while attending Western Washington University. I needed a break from the sciences and I discovered that I liked art. I found art making incredibly satisfying. I switched majors and graduated with a degree in art with an emphasis on both ceramics and painting. Shortly before graduation my mother passed away unexpectedly. Upon graduation I returned to Philadelphia to be near family. I initially worked in advertising, all the while pursuing my own art on the side. At this time I was focused on both painting and screen printing, particularly enjoying the technical aspects of stencil making and registration (color alignment). After working for 10 years in advertising I was discontent and looking for a change. My fiancé (now my wife) suggested teaching art. I was always nervous about public speaking, but decided it was time to overcome that fear. I am so glad I did. I was able to get my teaching certificate quickly. I liked teaching from the start. I was able to teach a subject that I loved, to my surprise enjoyed the theatre of a teacher, and found working with kids, great fun! In addition, teaching made me a better artist. I often said to myself, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this”. I taught middle school art for 3 years in Philadelphia, and elementary art for the past 20 years in Collingswood, NJ. After 23 years of a rewarding teaching career, it was time once again for a new adventure and to refocus on my own art. With a combination of sadness and excitement I retired in July of 2020. Since retiring we moved to Central Pennsylvania.
I grew up in an outdoor loving family. Camping, hiking, and rock climbing were all activities that I loved. As I’ve gotten older a hotel has become more agreeable than camping, and I no longer have the head or physical strength for rock climbing, but the love of nature, and mountains in particular persists. Something in the natural world usually provides the idea for an artwork. It can be as simple as a bird and flower, or something more visually complicated such as a memory or exploration of a subject that is set in nature. Whatever the idea, my guiding principle is that beauty is a worthy end in itself. Attaining beauty is often a transcendent spiritual experience. As such it has depth and meaning. I work in both collage and painting. My collages evolved from teaching screen printing. I initially used cut paper collage as a way of teaching the stencil making technique. The precision, detail and flatness of color appealed to me and I continued this art making process after I gave up my Philadelphia screen printing studio in 2001. I discovered Wycinanki, the Polish folk art of paper cutting in 2011. The subject matter of birds, flowers, and wild colors contrasting with a unifying black background paper appealed to me and I gave it a try. I quickly found Wycinanki’s traditional symmetry limiting, but still loved it’s stylized and graphic qualities, and felt the limiting parameters created a strength and visual power. The best analogy I can use is that of a power washer. When all that water is forced through a small opening it comes out with a great force. I feel this way about the paper cut technique and the graphic simplicity of the imagery.
My artistic process is indirect due to the nature of the material. Mistakes are time consuming so there is a great deal of upfront planning involved. I begin with an initial drawing and color sketch. I then proceed to paint a variety of papers with colors and shades that I am thinking of using. I plan how I will layer the papers, then choose colors, draw, cut, arrange and then glue paper shapes into position. I also incorporate painting directly onto the image when I think that will be more productive. All along I am carefully making design decisions and changes as necessary. This process allows me to keep tightening the image until I arrive at the harmony and beauty I am striving for.