In the Studio with
I studied art and literature at the University of Minnesota. Fifty years later I am still studying, but this time with a small group of local artists who want to share, critique, and improve our art products. Exploring and making art is a vital lifelong passion.
I don’t know how I got started making art. Perhaps I never outgrew my child-like delight in creating my own little world on paper. Maybe I wanted to say something with art that I couldn’t express adequately with words. Maybe I kept doing it because of some positive feedback or maybe it was an ongoing act of rebellion. In any case, the journey started early in life and now late in life I am still at it.
First and foremost, creating art is enjoyable. There is something very satisfying about starting with a blank canvas and then watching as some personal perception emerges. Sometimes it feels like magic. Perhaps this urge to create fulfills a basic human need to bridge our internal selves with the external world and in the process learn a little bit more about ourselves and the human condition.
As an artist, what is your most important tool?
This may be more of a skill than a tool, but I work routinely on my eye/hand coordination. It is with our eyes and hands that we can meaningfully translate what is inside or heads onto paper or canvas. Flubbing up this translation is often very frustrating, but when it works it feels really cool.
Painting, like dance, has its own rhythms. So, when I am working in my studio, I like to play music that complements the feel and rhythm of the painting under construction. In one corner of the studio I have a pile of favorite CDs.
What is your least favorite part of your process?
Since I thoroughly enjoy the entire process of making art, I would like to weasel out of the question and change it from “least favorite” to the “hardest part” of the process. For me the hardest part is finding the right colors. Colors can be unruly, finicky, and demanding, but when they cooperate, they are transformational. The struggle to find the right colors often reminds me of the need for artistic humility.
What is your favorite part?
I have two favorite parts: the pre-painting visualization and the dissolution of the ego.
For much of my work I am building a visual philosophical diary. I may start with some idea, dilemma, or even absurdity concerning the human condition. As my thinking about it evolves, the visualization process begins and unedited images emerge. This is a wonderful feeling of unrestricted mental exploration.
When I begin to paint, there are the inevitable starts and stops and the resulting frustrations, but as the process moves forward, I often find that at some point I fall into a place where both time and ego dissolve. This psychological state is pleasantly addicting.