Look, look, look...
It used to be the first written words we learned: "Look, Dick, look." See, Jane, see."
Do you ever look behind you...above you, below you, to your left or right? How many breath-taking sunsets have you missed because you were driving east in the evening, or you were too busy thinking about work to see the moon setting in the morning? Have you ever wished you had your camera with you to capture that moment, or—and this is the big one—never appreciated a view until a building went up in front of it, or a bulldozer plowed it under? I try to capture those moments, those views, before they disappear. Even more, I try to capture the feeling associated with those views. My work is not about just documentation; it is about passage.
Alla prima, au premier coup—all at once, first strike. My best work has always been about this. Whether outside or in the studio, once I’ve completed my thought process, I work until the painting is done. Because of how I paint, it is very difficult to go back and finish later. My preliminary plans include not just composition, but where I will stop and start. I use a painting knife almost exclusively, and that lays the paint onto the surface very differently than a brush. Once the paint has begun to harden, I can’t push and pull the paint around, scratch and scrub, build and obliterate. The texture becomes too busy, too disruptive to my thought process. The immediacy of application mirrors the urgency I often feel.
In the studio I may work12 hours uninterrupted on a large canvas—capturing that same sense of urgency I feel when working in the field. My work en plein air is fueled not only by constantly changing light and weather, but also by the locations I choose. I am drawn to areas that we see but don’t notice, that seem unimportant—until development or destruction comes. This results in my work being done in a series, expressing change over time, real or imagined, within myself or in the location.
Tick tock, tick tock...