“Bear Lithia,” 2009, oil, iridescence, and gold leaf on linen, 48″x72″
“Passing,” 2009, oil on linen, 46″x74″
“Five Miles Out,” 2009, oil and gold leaf on canvas over panel, 20″x36″
When I moved to Brooklyn from Virginia I started making these dark landscape paintings lit in strange ways. When I started the paintings usually they were of something burning. Now there is often something backlit, or overwhelmed by light. And there is more and more texture. The paintings make light from texture. There is something in memory that is like this light. Brooklyn, with its dark heart, and my memory of the south provide the shadows.
I tend to paint many different paintings on a canvas or panel before finding the final image. Some layers are figurative; some are more abstract or obscured. Eventually the layers add up and I start to see their sum. Maybe there is a drawing that lives just in the texture of the surface. Two of the images might become present at once, or are trade places as the light in the room changes. These unexpected shifts open the painting up. If the painting surprises me, it has the potential to surprise the viewer. It is this potential that I use to decide when a painting is finished.
As the grandson of an Amish deacon and farmer, my personal experience as a contemporary painter living in New York has its own set of layers. With their blinding light and yearning for the soil, the strata of these paintings are a personal metaphor for the spirituality that underlies my urban experience. The result is necessarily a bit enigmatic. What remains unresolved allows an open space for each viewer’s individual interpretation.