Artist's Statement

"I have always been fascinated with touching the past. From a very young age, I was aware that my parents, grandparents, and some of their older relations had arrived at the point at which I met them from a trip through an older time which was no longer accessible physically, yet which still existed inside them in their thoughts and in their experiences. I had been told stories about relatives who had lived sixty years before my birth. But those times were not lost - they were very much alive and real inside of the people who were closest to me.

By its very nature and history, painting in oil brings me in touch with the past. Large canvases allow me the physical space to capture and express, not a static scene or re-creation, but an emotion, a feeling, and motion: the soul of the people whom I wish to somehow bring into my own time. In a way, I want my images to resemble tinted black and white photos, in order to accent the different time which they represent. To that end, I paint large dark areas in black or sepia, and use somewhat muted colors within. My priorities are to 1) capture the time and place, 2) capture the emotion, 3) capture the people and likenesses, 4) capture the action, and 5) make these accessible to the viewer. I paint loosely and deliberately allow the brushstrokes to show through as I believe that a great deal of feeling and emotion can be expressed this way. Smooth, clean, photographic brushstrokes can lose a great deal of emotion. I feel that if I wanted to show the image thus, I might as well display a photograph. Above all, I want the very human side of the subjects to come through. I like painting images that bring out good feelings in the viewer; there is already plenty of unpleasant or even ugly reality in the world without my adding to it.

I have recently engaged in a great deal of research through books, reading, images, and sketches, and I plan to create a great many more images over the next several months. Sometimes the subjects are from photographs of my own family. Other times it may be photographs of strangers, sketches from life, and pencil or photographic studies of items such as antiques and artifacts which add a sense of everyday life and reality to the scenes. Whatever the origin, it is a window into the lives, emotions, and souls of those long-gone that I wish to express and share."

Art can take many forms. It is not simply paint on a canvas. Many professions and skills are considered to be art forms. Bringing together the past with my own experiences, my parent's and friend's experiences, and even the experiences of strangers, and representing the conflux of those experiences and events in a unified expression, is to bring together a number of professions, disciplines, and many art forms which made history what it is.

In order, therefore, to better understand some of these art forms and periods of history, I expand my knowledge of the art forms. Most of my furniture is not modern, but rather, sixty, seventy, eighty years old and older. I have learned to restore it. I have learned to work with lacquer instead of modern varnish. I own several phonographs, victrolas, and cylinder players, some purchased in what is known as “barn fresh” condition – having seen their last fifty or so years as discarded, useless items stashed in someone's barn. These, I have restored to fully working condition, rebuilding their mechanisms, installing new main-springs, and giving them a new life. I collect old discs (“78's”) and cylinders, and I play them. I also collect stereo images. Another interest is circular wick kerosene lamps from the late 19 th century which I also restore to full functionality, and I use them as well. In fact, I use all the items I acquire and restore. This is not a collector's accumulation, but rather, a living art form which serves to breathe life into my paintings. My piano is from 1915; my piano stool, from 1895. I own and drive a 1949 Ford. I discovered a wonderful wooden French clarinet from 1942 and a metal one from the 1920's which I learned to play. I came across a beautiful treadle sewing machine which I also brought back to functionality and, although I will never be a tailor, I did learn to use it in order to better appreciate the experience of those who owned and used it before me. I clean and restore old daguerreotype and tin type photographic plates, as well as old glass negatives from which I then make prints. Everything is restored and brought back to life.

Of late, I have been gathering information in order to create daguerreotypes using authentic techniques and methods from the mid 19 th century. Recently, I made my first 24 bottles of wine in order to explore another area with very old roots. The point is, these art forms themselves are history just as history can be art – which brings me full circle to the point I started with: In my art, I wish to capture and celebrate those times and those people which have come and gone before and without whom we would not be here today! And so – I paint."