My paintings are serial, the subject matter of which has shifted from the narrative to the poetic to the symbolic. I used to tell stories about things that happen in people’s lives and use thoughts common to us all. Then I showed ideas or material things that I thought were interesting, and that I hoped were universally so. I considered my chosen images to be beautiful – the desert, the ocean, the planets, my friends.
I am presently working with images of trees. The tree series, Natural History, comprises 33 square paintings, arranged in a pattern based on a Fibonacci series of numbers. There is no story, just an arrangement of paintings that proceeds from trunk to sky. While continuing on Natural History, I am also making ancillary work, which I call art actions or immediate work. In my serial paintings I think a long time about something, photograph that idea, and then use those photographs as a basis for a number of paintings, which are either all on one canvas or all on separate canvases, as with my current series. In the ancillary work, my process is opposite that of the serial paintings.
Instead of using preexisting images such as photographs in my ancillary work, I often use actual bits of nature material – wood and bark, dirt, leaves. I have worked with paper and ink and an actual part of a tree, pressing into it with my paint-covered hands. I wanted to touch the object and to put my body on it – to get as close as I could. Those images are very abstract, and the pieces range from 20" x 30" to 5' x 10'. Other ancillary work is a dialogue with my environment as well as an homage to another artist. And I have tried out a nonmaterial format, asking others to join in a water ballet in the Dead Sea and to do other immediate work responsive to that landscape. There a participant made a necklace of salt crystals, beautiful and transient.
I appreciate my ancillary work in the context of my time consuming, very detailed "regular" work. The former is nearly the opposite of my customary, carefully considered, and meditative way of working. Think of the ancillary – the art actions and the immediate – as “living in the chaos” compared with the regular – the serial – as “mandala” or “icon.” Yet I understand both as contemporary landscapes.
Ancillary work can be seen on my website under Other and under Residencies->Maine Residency->Maine Paintings on Paper.