When I look at the work I produced thirty-five years ago and the work produced throughout my career, I see the roots and branches of what I now create. For one thing, my work is geometric. Everything falls into the pattern which, for me, organizes and clarifies and relates to the work of Piet Mondrian. When I organize the space of a piece of art, I find it disturbing not to think of it geometrically -unorganized - not making sense. I enjoy working from still life. I like the fact that I can manipulate the shapes and the light creating my own environment before I get to the painting. I like bottles and jars, reflective surfaces, and transparent objects. When I create work about landscape or people I think about it in the same way: as still life with objects in space.
Color within the tight organization of shapes is the main subject of my work. I see layers of color in my subject matter. Sometimes it is flat, sometimes I build layers of hue. My use of color is related to the Impressionists and the Fauves. I began using pastels, drawing with color, to gain a further understanding of the depths of the color. Presently, my work seems only to scratch the surface of what I want to accomplish. With each painting I learn more about color function and concurrently I develop my own methods of applying color.
When I begin to work on a painting I first spend quite a bit of time arranging the objects thinking about color and shape relationships. I then do a series of thumbnail sketches which are not detailed, but which help me to work out the composition thinking about the relationship of the inner shapes to the outer edges. When I teach I insist my students do this step. It helps them to see many possibilities from one subject and to think about what makes a dynamic composition. Next, I either enlarge from the thumbnail or redraw on a surface. I like what happens when lines of color mix without blending. I sometimes use the pastel on its side for broad areas, but then do more layering over and through this. I also like to use the tip of the rectangular pastels to "burnish" the colors which creates a different kind of color mix than layering or blending. I rarely blend colors with my finger, tools, or cloth.
When I work in oils, acrylics, colored pencils, etc. I generally follow the same process. It is important to me that the outer shape of the picture plane relates to the shapes within. After planning the composition on paper, I transfer the drawing. Then, I proceed to lay in layers of color. Mixing takes place on the palette as well as on the surface by physical and optical mixing.
In the beginning while I am laying in the drawing I allow for changes in the composition. This is ongoing. The structure of the drawing acts as a guide - when color is applied shapes sometimes need adjusting for balance, etc. Once I have a drawing that suits me, I begin to lay in the lightest light and darkest dark values, then other values and color. I sometimes begin with local color, sometimes with compliments, sometimes with outrageous color. I layer, layer, layer seeing more and more color the harder I look at the subject. As my mentor, Hope Horn, used to say, "The painting is complete when nothing bothers me."
I usually work in a series because I learn a great deal about shapes, color and light with the repetition. The most famous series painter was the Impressionist Claude Monet whose work with the effects of light on color at various times of the day is well known. As with Monet, one of things that interests me when working on a still life series is what the effect of changing the position of the light does to the subject. I also like to explore things such as looking at the setup from different angles and heights, breaking it into parts, etc.
The organization of shapes in an abstract composition within the realm of realism is essential to my work. Basically, my work is abstract. Balancing shapes is essential. Working up to realism is what I enjoy doing. It is a realism that allows the viewer to see colors I perceive in an organized way.