Updates


Welcoming Spring

Garden Daffodils, 7x12 inches, oil on linen panel

Garden Daffodils, 7×12 inches, oil on linen panel

Spring comes hesitantly to Colorado. Winter reappears unexpectedly, and for a while the seasons stammer back and forth between warm sun and thick snow. The daffodils in the painting shown here are from my parents’ garden. Just after I finished the painting, a few snowflakes began to fall, and soon a late snow storm buried the flowers in one of winter’s short-lived recoveries.

Painting Horses

Running at Dawn, 40x30 inches, oil on linen panel

Running at Dawn, 40×30 inches, oil on linen panel

My first oil painting was of a horse. I was ten years old and I painted it with the help of my very patient grandmother. At the time I was obsessed with horses. I drew them over and over, I loved books about them, and I would painstakingly save up money to buy plastic horse figurines. Not long after I painted that first horse, I rode a horse and fell off. This put quite a damper on my horse frenzy.

Earlier this year I was able to experience a bit of my old love of horses once again when I was invited to paint for a few days in Lexington, Kentucky. The world’s largest seller of thoroughbred racehorses, Keeneland, has an artist’s cabin on their grounds, and during my stay there I was able to observe horses training against beautiful backdrops of rolling emerald hills. Every morning I would rise early to watch the jockeys and horses make their laps around the racetrack, beginning with the first whisper of light before dawn.

Two of the paintings that were inspired by my time in Keeneland will be part of the Sporting Art Auction on November 21st in Lexington. Here is a link to the auction’s website so that you can find out more about the artwork and the bidding process: TheSportingArtAuction.com.

Before the Leaves Fall

Painting Autumn Colors

Painting Autumn Colors

The mountains of Colorado are magical in the autumn. The fleeting days when the aspen leaves are glowing yellow and orange are my favorite time to wander through the woods. With every passing breeze, the air is filled with falling leaves, and soon the ground glows with a golden carpet, laid in welcome for the coming snows.

Simplifying

sketches2

Sketch for “Aspen and Shadows on Bright Snow”

My paintings begin with pencil sketches. These sketches are just enough to cement an idea in my mind so that I can finalize my composition and feel confident about the concept that I want the image to convey. The sketches are scrawled, like my handwriting, and usually illegible to anyone besides myself. I first draw a rectangle, then inside the rectangle I arrange and rearrange the main elements of my composition until I feel my idea is visually interesting. Usually I break down a scene into three to five elements, and when I arrange these elements I play a game with myself…the rules of this game are that no spaces should be the same, no shapes should have the same volume, and each value should be distinct. This process helps me be more objective about what I am composing; many times after sketching for a while I decide that whatever struck me initially about the scene does not translate well into a composition. Then I move on until I hopefully find something else that does translate well.

 

Aspen and Shadows on Bright Snow, 7x12 inches, Oil on Linen Panel, small

“Aspen and Shadows on Bright Snow,” 7×12 inches

I think of my paintings as visual poems, and much of that has to do with simplifying, pairing down an image to its essence so as to best convey emotion and to allow viewers to step into it with their imaginations unfurled. A beautifully, thoughtfully composed poem carries depth and life in ways that abundantly descriptive prose cannot; we are built to love elements of mystery that draw us beyond what we can see or describe. Brevity often allows the space that our imaginations need in order to step in and engage.

Art and Aid for Refugees

"Lights at Dawn," 8x10 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

“Lights at Dawn,” 8×10 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

Through the end of this year I will donate 50% of sales from the paintings I post on Facebook [Click Here to See my Facebook Page]. The funds will go to the Syrian refugee aid work of Compassion and Mercy Associates. Our donations will provide household necessities and counseling services to refugees who are in desperate circumstances. Good friends of mine work with this organization, and they describe these efforts in the Middle East as relief that brings hope and dignity. Will you join me in reaching out?

The Syrian refugee crisis and the volatility of the Middle East became real to me during my recent travels in Turkey and in Egypt. While I was in Turkey, every day brought news of another bombing, another wave of displaced people. From there I went to Egypt, where I spent nine days in Sinai at the remote St. Catherine’s Monastery. It was beautifully silent. Now, only a few weeks later, the region is an international headline because of the explosion of a passenger plane. The monks of St. Catherine’s monastery heard the explosion during their services. These are lands in precarious balance, where my friends and my family live in the shadow of brewing tension.

National Park Adventures

Teton View Sunrise, 10x8 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

Teton View Sunrise, 10×8 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

In the past couple of months I have been able to paint in three of my favorite National Parks: Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone. When I look at my paintings of these places, I remember the strange and wonderful adventures that have unfolded there, like…

 

The time my dad and I hiked across the Grand Canyon. We sweated our way over trails from the north rim to the south rim, marveling at the canyon’s beauty as we gained an intimate view of its vastness.

 

The time my friends and I jumped into a waterfall at Yellowstone so that the current would suck us under and shoot us down between high rock walls. The current soon slowed and swept us into a graceful layer of bugs that hovered like mist over the surface of the water at dusk.

 

The time I was so focused on my painting in the Tetons that I was unaware of the bison that were wandering closer and closer to me as I worked. I was armed with a can of bear spray in case of an unhappily close encounter with a grizzly, but I had no defense against bison except to finish my painting as quickly as possible.

 

I am deeply thankful for my job that allows me to wander again through such beautiful places.

Gold, Wood, and Paint

At Dusk in the Winter Forest

“At Dusk in the Winter Forest,” 34×20 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

My parents made each of the frames for my paintings in the upcoming exhibit at Gallery 1261 (May 28 through June 20 in Denver). We worked together to design these frames, aiming for an end result that would compliment the simplicity and layered effects of my paintings. It took us months of cycling through prototypes to come up with the current results.

My dad meticulously assembles the frames from scratch, beginning with sticks of raw poplar wood. He spent months researching the best ways to shape the wood, join the corners, layer the colors, and the many other steps that are involved in making professional grade frames.

My mom carefully gilds the inner edge of each frame with 23K gold leaf. This is a tedious, expensive, and detailed process, and the end result is a gleaming edge (on a 15 degree angle, to be precise) that reflects the surface of the painting and quietly invites viewers to come closer.

Painting Seasons

"Cherry Tree Beside the Potomac River," 12x7 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

“Cherry Tree Beside the Potomac River,” 12×7 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

Crocuses are blooming, purple dots scattered among the brown grass and melting patches of snow. Crocuses and birdsong, echoing each other in the air and on the ground, the call of coming Spring. My little nephew runs and dances around the crocuses, singing as he goes, happy to be outside after long days of cold weather. I too feel strangely happy, studio door flung open to the warm air and to the slanting sunlight.

Exciting Possibilities

"Sunrise on the Crestones," 12x16 inches, Oil on Linen Panel,

“Sunrise on the Crestones,” 12×16 inches, Oil on Linen Panel,

One of my art heroes is Rose Fredrick, curator of the Coors Western Art Exhibit and Sale. She has consistently expanded the boundaries of what people consider “western” art, resulting in one of the most dynamic and well-respected art shows of its kind. The Coors show raises funds for the National Western Scholarship Trust, which provides support for students in fields that preserve the land and culture of the American West.

Rose Fredrick has also been a huge encouragement to me personally, not only by including me in her very prestigious show, but also by helping to guide the trajectory of my art career. Largely thanks to her introductions, I now have two new galleries that will be representing my work:

Gallery 1261 in Denver, Colorado is one of my main sources of inspiration in the art community. The caliber of art that they show and the level of freedom that they encourage have been foundational to my own desire to grow and experiment as an artist. Seeing my paintings on their walls has been a dream of mine for many years.

Simpson Gallagher Gallery in Cody, Wyoming will also be representing my work beginning this summer. Sue Simpson Gallagher has owned the gallery for 21 years and is one of the West’s most respected art dealers. She represents some of the region’s top artists, including several who have profoundly impacted my own work.

Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, Wyoming and Scottsdale, Arizona, will also continue to represent my work. They have far exceeded my expectations, and I am truly grateful to them for their commitment to excellence (and again to Rose Fredrick, who introduced me to them too).

Welcome, Winter

Bone White Sky, 7x12 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

Bone White Sky, 7×12 inches, Oil on Linen Panel

The hush of fallen snow. Fleeing birds trace patterns through white skies. Rings of frost around the sun, around the moon, prismatic. My breath suspended in the cold air. My footsteps crunching on the cold ground. The paint on my palette becomes thick in the cold, unwieldy along with my numb fingers. I paint anyway and feel caught inside the stillness of the landscape in winter.