W H Y   I   P A I N T

A good painting energizes the space it inhabits, sparking the imagination, clearing the mind, and refreshing the soul.

In the studio there is a moment when the painting begins to "breathe," when I feel my blood pressure drop and there's a sudden sense of quiet. Scraps of paper covered with ballpoint pen sketches and little oil studies lay scattered like autumn leaves on table tops and across the floor. Streaks of blue or red or white mark my hands, arms, cheeks, and hair. Jazz riffs quietly through the air. In a slightly foggy, trance-like creative state, I sense more than see it happening. 

That feeling of knowing that it's right , that this thing that I thought was a desperate mess has suddenly come to life, is always a bit of a shock. An artist learns to accept the risk of failure, having faith in the process. When things go well, often it feels like I'm watching it happen, as if the work is painting itself.

I have heard artists of all types--from screenwriters and novelists to musicians and poets--acknowledge the unexpected resolution as part of their process. As Robert Frost put it, No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

Somehow that sense of wonder, that spark of life, lives in the finished painting, encoded in and radiating out from the rhythms of paint through the brushwork.

People often ask me, “How do you know when a painting is finished?”

The truth is each painting is an exploration of ideas and questions prompted by the last, part of a never-ending conversation.  But when that startling sense of rightness hits me, I know it’s time to step away, let go, and begin the process all over again.