Much of making art has to do with the craft needed to work with the materials, being present, and empty enough to allow them to guide, direct and inspire. A painting is an interaction with “real” materials like water, ink and earth, that has a physical presence in the room. Any child knows it’s a flat surface but when it works it creates a view into a world that only lives in that painting. The techniques can be difficult to learn and sometimes exciting and many times frustrating to do. Hopefully the finished work will stimulate a response in the viewer and embody something of the artist at the time of creation. Mastering the tools and processes is paramount, it takes time and practice. Water and ink, oils and pigments, wood, metal or Photoshop and After Effects all have their own skills to learn. In music we say it’s 10,000 hours of real practice to play an instrument well, I believe it’s the same with the visual arts. After the skills and techniques are embodied then we hope the art will show up. What comes out is filtered through the individual artists personality and history, making the art unique to that particular moment.
I think it’s very important to keep the techniques of “real” materials alive while embracing the amazing digital tools we have available. I use Photoshop right along with pencils and paper, to compose and manipulate. Then I use print outs and a large screen as references while painting. The painting goes way beyond a print. It’s real. It refracts and reflects light in a completely different way and each painting is, by it’s very hand made nature, unique, and one of a kind. It’s an event that has time built into it.
I love the materials of painting, pushing around tiny particles of color, layered in the fluid translucence of oil or water.
Working with oils is like coming back home after a long journey. I have to walk around the neighborhood for a while to get my bearings and then I’m off and running. The pigments are pretty much the same that artists have been using for hundreds of years with a few modern variations and refinements, but modern solvents and mediums are a bit different and they say, less toxic and more archival. The studio doesn’t smell like turpentine anymore.
This series began at in early 2017 using a narrow set of materials, water, ink and a few earth pigments collected in my area of Eastern Washington.
This series of highly textured acrylic paintings is inspired by my interest in the edges of things, the edges or interfaces where one thing ends and another begins, where two elements meet, such as where a meadow meets a forest, or the water wears the stone. This is the place of the greatest dynamism, diversity and transformational processes. These paintings explore these transitional zones through color and texture.
In the late 1990s Ren and I were students of the renowned Buddhist teacher Tsultrim Aleone. Tsultrim asked me to design and carve the Snow Lions and the Enlightenment rings for the Stupa that was to be built at the retreat land, Tara Mandala in Colorado. These pictures chronicle the carving of the Snow Lions.