I was born in Albuquerque, NM, but have been nomadic since the age of six. Like most people, artists or not, my first experiences in art were with crayons and finger paint, but even those early attempts were guided by the loving hand of my mother, herself a professional artist. She was the first influence on my work, and the impact of her lessons remains. Though she worked primarily in oils, it was in her work that I first saw paper combined with another medium, though she used it rarely, and only for texture.
During twenty-five years of homeschooling four children K-12, it sat in the back of my mind: could I one day develop the idea of paper as painting – not with traditional collage or assemblage techniques, but using the color and texture of handmade papers to recreate the effect of paint? This has been my focus since the beginning. By some standards, I got a late start. I believe that in the providence of God, I started my brilliant art career exactly when I was supposed to, but it does make the focus necessary.
Besides my angel mother, my super condensed list of influences would include: Gentileschi and Caravaggio, for their extremes in lighting; the atmospheres in William Turner; the quiet comfort in the scenes by Mary Cassatt; Van Gogh’s brushstrokes; the geometry in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Piet Mondrian, as well as the latter’s use of primaries; Maxfield Parrish’s blues; Edward Hopper’s light; the thin layers upon layers of Mark Rothko; Georgia O’Keeffe’s magnified forms; the way Edward Gonzales uses blocks of color; the way Bill Baker doesn’t blend his pastels.
I currently live and work in Gallup, NM, on the southern edge of the Navajo Nation, surrounded by the beauty of the southwest’s high desert landscape.
As one of my favorite writers has observed, we live on a tilt-a-whirl in the middle of a carnival – stuck to the surface of a rotating, watery blue ball, revolving around a gigantic star, a tiny part of a system which spins in a galaxy, which is itself spinning through an immeasurable universe. It’s a wonder all of us aren’t dizzy all the time. As I continue these glorious, involuntary, annual treks around the sun, I see this deceptively wide world as a miniature work of art. Consequently, the subjects I capture on canvas, even if the canvases are huge, are still miniatures of that global miniature. In life, as in art, perspective matters.
My work is unified by the non-traditional use of paper. Unlike traditional collage or assemblage techniques, I strive to create the effect of painting without using cut-outs of printed papers, or by collecting dissociated and disparate elements. Excepting an occasional under-painting, handmade papers (free of printed designs) supply all the color. Sometimes a paper is just the right shade, other times multiple layers and combinations of color are required to achieve the right hue and intensity. Paper is derived from organic matter, so it yields various natural colors and textures which add their own unique beauty. No paper is truly transparent, though some, like Japanese tissue paper, are so thin they can function as a glaze. Others, such as bark paper from Mexico, are so heavy they can be difficult to control. I apply the paper to the canvas with an acrylic medium. Every canvas is an experiment, as I can never be sure what each color or layered combination will look like once it dries. Each piece is finished with a UV coating.
I choose subjects that are meaningful to me or impress me with their intensity and depth of color, or that communicate simple truth, goodness, and beauty. My work is successful when it touches more than the viewer’s eye and draws them into a shared moment, memory, or emotion beyond the limited expression of the subject.