This evolved from an experience I had on a trip to Indonesia. Late one afternoon in a tropical lagoon, I was swimming near several moored fishing canoes. A large cloud formed in the distant sky. The dichotomy of the tied boat within the expansive freedom of the sea and sky evoked this finished image. It is the story of the duality that results from the act of emotionally tying ourselves to another in a partnership or marriage. Perhaps at times limiting, but ideally expansive and freeing in that it allows us – in the knowing that we are loved no matter what – to be more of our true and authentic selves. My wife in her wedding dress served as the figure model. Making this painting even more poignant for me.
This is based from a photo of my niece, Eleanor. Her pose was so confident and determined, and I knew immediately that I would use it in a larger scene, although the bigger picture wasn’t clear at the time. 6 months later, I was photographing elephants at a preserve in Bali when one laid down nearby. Just looking up with soft, kind eyes. I was imagining what kind of life a captive elephant might lead, and it was then that I remembered Eleanor’s passionate love of elephants – and the photo of her. The resulting scene became a story of innocence. Of a child’s belief that she can always protect and nurture those things that she loves the most. And a prayer that the adult Eleanor’s of the world never stop rescuing whatever calls to them.
Arguably, most of the ills of modern day society, culture and politics stem from a fear of lack. Which when taken to its extreme, translates to a pathological drive to acquire and control more of the power, money, resources, etc. that one fears being without. This painting then, is symbolic of controlling many of the life sustaining resources that at one time in human evolution were free and available to all.
An ideal relationship is not a sacrificing of the self for another, but a greater affirming of our own individuality and purpose. It is asking “who am I in relationship to you? And are we each living a grander and more balanced life because of it?” These two separate paintings symbolize lovers sharing the same life journey, yet simultaneously retaining their deep sense of self. It also represents the male and female essence of a couple: the masculine on the left with its created structure and tree of tenacity; and the feminine on the right - flowering beneath the matriarchal moon. Both are connected by a simple bridge. An open invitation to traverse at anytime.
I was recently viewing paintings of upper class life in the late twentieth century, and the correlation with the imagery and my cat’s entitlement attitude became clearly evident. Perhaps this is why those of us who have cats love them so. This is no knock on their lack of physical effort beyond the pure necessities. It is enviable. I support the fact that if there was an optional carriage service to move her from nap spot to the meal service site, I’m sure she would take it.
A staple of surrealism is juxtaposition. Which means placing unexpected visual elements side by side. However, I also like playing with juxtaposing a subjects' intended uses or characteristics. Observing my cat has become a favorite new pastime of mine. Minus a very few hours of daily activity, there is a whole lot of laziness going on. This idea came about as a result of that observation — the contrast of the relaxed feline lifestyle with that of a driver of industry. I had great fun with this, and so it may become the first in a new series of intimate animal portraits.
This painting is an allegory on personal evolution. As we grow, we will often come to the edge of experiential boundaries. Boundaries that require us to examine and alter our beliefs of what is possible if we are to live a more expansive life. The home in the center of the heart shaped tree represents the need to focus on what our own hearts call us forward to create and experience. For this is the current evolutionary drive in humanity. It's no longer about basic surviving, but about thriving. The comet in the background is symbolic of the two different ways that one can view these cathartic events: either as a destructive comet of catastrophe, or as a shooting star heralding positive change. Or as the band REM wrote, “It's the end of the world as we know it… and I feel fine”.
Arguably, a major turning point in human history came when cultures ceased to see God or The Divine as being inherent within all objects - but as separate from both man and nature. Over millennia, we then stopped treating our planet and each other with reverence. The idea for this painting came from an image of a science experiment. A burning candle isolated in a jar - here symbolizing a separated God - uses up the available oxygen and starts pulling water from the surrounding bowl. The displacement of water creates a distorted view of the objects. The black bird represents the human race, seen by some as sinful by nature and forever separate from its divine source. I believe that physics is now proving that all matter and energy is connected. That we are the physical manifestations of the same Divine force that birthed the stars. And it is my hope that this will also hearken a desperately needed evolution of the human race.
Ravens and crows have long received a bad rap. A group of crows is called a “murder” and ravens fare no better. When gathered, they are called an “unkindness”. Thus was the launching point for this continuation in the animal portrait series. It’s an image I had sketched out years ago and thought of anytime I saw a suspicious looking a raven. Lurking by the docks under the partially obscured moon, he awaits any dubious opportunity with mal intent. Or perhaps he is simply a poor misunderstood bird searching for honest work.
This painting is about trust and optimism. It is said that people who live in a world of uplifting thoughts aren’t facing reality. But the fact is, their reality is different than others’. It tends to match their attitude. They trust that all is unfolding with purpose and their lives reflect that thinking. This is no simple philosophical pondering for me. Indeed, I believe this is the key to an expansive, fully lived life. Challenges still happen. But the difference in moving through them brings to mind the words of poet Patrick Overton:
“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”
The extinguished candle here represents our physical bodies. In this case, one whose time on earth is complete. And the bubble of light symbolizes the eternal spirit. Our consciousness outside of physical form. It is my beliefthat there is unbroken continuity of awareness when we choose to transition from the physical to the nonphysical plane. Having experienced myself outside of my physical body, I know that death is not the end. I imagine that welikely emerge back into non physical existence as if we have awakened from a vivid dream. And with broader awareness and wisdom in why we made the life journey and choices that we did. The feeling of separation between us and those who have left is sorrowful indeed. But I have no doubt that it is all illusion. That they have simply slipped away into the next room. Close enough to feel their presence when we desire. All is well.
L’isola is Italian for ‘The Island’. On honeymoon in Italy a while back, I was inspired by the scenes of Tuscany. The hilltop villas, farmhouses and walled cities looked like islands to me. Afloat in a sea of rolling hills and vineyards. And like islands, their beauty, charm and culture remain largely protected and intact. It was also symbolic of how my wife and I felt then. That feeling of divine protection which new love gives. We felt we were floating above the world - yet more deeply in it than ever. With a heightened perspective of what is important in life - as represented by the perched farmhouse.
This is my cat, Scarlet. She doesn't want her party guests to feel self conscious about their big beaks. So being the thoughtful kitty that she is, she dons one of her own.
“Come closer my sweets. Come help me blow out this candle”.
This image came to me on a recent trip to Bali. Sitting on the beach one morning, I realized that the reason I felt so at peace was that by being distracted by so much beauty, I had relaxed the grip my brain usually has on trying to solve undesirable circumstances in my life. Problems I could never resolve in an anxiety ridden state of mind. So the symbolism represents the negotiation between the ego and the higher self (or God’s will, if you prefer). The nature of the ego is to attempt to force an outcome it can’t fully control, as represented here by the hard, unyielding stones. However, only the higher self with its far seeing vantage point has the ability to orchestrate unimaginable circumstances to a usually even more positive resolution, as symbolized by the fantastically balanced tower and perched temple. So, on that soft morning, I remembered to trust in this grander perspective and heightened ability that we all have at our disposal. The issue was soon delightfully resolved, thank you very much.
I have always been fascinated with exploration and discovery. Unfortunately, most of the explorations in history were initiated by a search for fuel, riches or exploitation of one sort or another. This painting speculates about a journey to giving. The orange tree represents the gift of food. A native tree of Spain, it also symbolizes the early European explorers, as does the rowboat. Perhaps a day will come when we venture to the stars for no other reason than to learn, and to benevolently share our wisdom. And the story of how we narrowly yet successfully avoided self destruction.
There are certain souls,
And you are chief among them my love,
Who become our stars, our suns, our principal satellites.
We moor ourselves to each other
Like fearful ships in the dark,
Anxious to gift our autonomy in exchange for safety.
We fall into perpetual orbit
Around their delicate shores and innermost seas.
Measuring ourselves always,
By the distance from each other.
And soon forget how black and immeasurable
Was the night sky before this.
This painting illuminates the meeting point between the living sea that moves like breath - inhaling and exhaling itself into the world - with the illusory permanence of our structured lives. As a lifelong surfer, I am intimately aware of the sea’s urging to ever flow and evolve. And no matter how we might try to delineate our man made world from nature’s perfect design, nature will find a way to prevail. Yet when we can merge our lives and homes in respect with the natural world, then will we have reached true harmony with the earth. The title is also a double entendre: as it references one of my favorite artists, the Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse, whose painting “A Mermaid” is partially reproduced in this scene.
Inspired by a verse from Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
“What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?”
This painting is about a merging of our dreaming and waking lives. It’s about looking inwardly - as symbolized by the blindfold – to the fantastic and malleable world of dreams. And having the courage and creativity to treat our waking lives with the same approach. Ah, what then indeed.
To see it’s far off desire, our protagonist has built an elaborately balanced perch, which if he moves will collapse. Obviously he could have easily flown there. But we’re often hesitant to change knowing it will upset the structures we’ve built around us – as symbolized by the perch. Society, families and friends are often invested in us not making radical change. Because without exception, that will cause them to analyze their lives relative to ours, as well as their own unfulfilled dreams. So the conformist stays put to maintain the balance. While the ones we call visionaries, dreamers and geniuses go anyway, knowing that their true joy lies beyond their comfort zone.
I typically have my paintings well plotted out before I begin. But I wanted to experiment with creating a painting somewhat on the go. I had these images of seagulls in flight chasing a scrap of food, which I wanted as the central point. However, I wasn’t sure what else would be happening. Driving home from my studio one night, we had an eerie full moon. The type that disappears in and out of the milky clouds. It inspired me to have my birds in a passionate dance of courtship to that moon.
I wanted to illustrate what letting go of the pain of our pasts might look like. Opening her umbrella in an act of graceful surrender, she releases the sorrows and sadness that had once roosted in her heart. The birds, which represent her solidified grief, cast no shadow as they are illusory in nature to the outside world, though very real to her. Such is it also with guilt and regret. We cannot evolve until we acknowledge and let go of that which binds us to the past. Only then will there be room in our lives to experience a new reality.
THE SHAPE OF YOUR LAUGHTER
The shape of your laughter
is a temple,
in the morning tide.
It is a tree,
whose every leaf
is a giggle,
a thank you.
It is a wave,
to the edge of reason.
A pile of stones,
with no awareness
The shape of your laughter
is the universe
and everything in it.
It is your embarrassed throat clearing
when you remember
that it is you
who is steering the planets.
There is an age-old philosophical question: do our lives follow a predetermined fate, or do we create our own destiny. I suspect that it’s some of both. That we have a general blueprint of our broader life goals, but that the details are left to chance, or made up on the fly. I imagine it being a journey that involves an improvised itinerary, but the destination or goal is determined in advance. The butterflies follow the choreographed movements of divine order and intent. While the umbrella represents the fluctuating element of spontaneous chance being carried by the winds.
This idea came from photos I had taken of my favorite model in a nearby park. As is sometimes the case, I don't know what I'm looking for until I see some visual clue that leads me to a finished idea. Once I saw this photo of her looking down from the swing, I immediately hit on the idea of her swinging at a ridiculously high altitude. Joyful, with unflinching confidence and courage.
This painting speaks to the power and romance of memories. We all have a particular time in our recollected childhoods when we felt eternally safe. When we loved the world and it loved us back. For me, that memory was solidified while growing up in a small seaside community. Yet those memories, while undoubtedly filtered to exclude unpleasant experiences, I believe are there to serve us later as emotional markers. In other words, if as adults we can access the emotional vibration of when we felt most nurtured and happy, it gives us a place to tap into – an ideal blueprint - when creating our ideal lives today.
We typically don't take risks in our lives because we are focused on the fear-based “what if”, rather than the deeper sense of life purpose that is calling us to ponder any given action. It is my belief that no matter how seemingly precarious our lives appear on this earth, we are eternally safe. And it is only in taking these risks that our hearts call us to, that we are ever fully alive and fulfilled. The fragile eggs suspended mid-air represent that illusion of danger. But the nest, sail and wind symbolize the divine grace and support that will always carry us through to our goal of an expanded life when we push off from the ledge.
This painting is about the concept of knowledge versus wisdom. That knowledge becomes practical wisdom only with experience. It is also about how the wisdom we gain in our lives is one of the few possessions we carry with us to the end, and the gift of most value that we pass onto future generations. The kingfisher bird pulling the apple tree always carries its source of shelter and food. Such is wisdom. Once gained it is never lost. The apple tree traditionally symbolizes knowledge. But here, its strenuous passage across the sea represents the journey of experience, by which that knowledge transforms into wisdom.
Within us lies the greatest wealth imaginable: our ability to imagine, align with, and subsequently attract any reality we can envision. Physics has proven that we are simply big magnets. Our thoughts and emotions cause our cells to vibrate at certain frequencies. And whatever frequency we vibrate at, we attract the corresponding physical equivalent of into our experience. The pearl atop which she perches is a symbol of that wisdom and wealth. The candles represent setting the space to envision that ideal reality. The umbrella signifies protection from the false belief that anything unwanted can force its way into our experience when we stay aligned with our ideal. And the butterfly represents transformation - from the non-physical to the physical realm - of our imagined desires.
This piece speaks to the dichotomy of our dreams as both the burdens, as well as the things that make our lives worth living. Every one of us has unrealized desires. When they are ignored, or not pursued out of fear that we cannot achieve or don’t deserve them, our lives are tethered to an unfulfilled potential. A dilemma that I feel is the cause of most of the sadness in this world. On the contrary, when we pursue those dreams they will immediately lift our spirits and give new meaning to our lives in unimaginably miraculous ways.
Inspired by a quote from Lao-Tzu:
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
We were each created with an internal compass that always points to our most fulfilled life path. When we are still, open, accepting, and at peace, we effortlessly move to the center of our being. Coupled with the belief that we inherently deserve to have whatever we want, the only thing left is to confidently follow wherever that path leads.
Alone. Seemingly abandoned, but unafraid. The figure stands as if casually waiting for someone who is just out of view in the distance. It speaks to our ultimate aloneness in the world. After all, there is no other person, other than ourselves, with whom we will travel through our entire lives with. Yet there is a strength, self-reliance and peace in her aloneness. On the most personal level, this painting represents my wife as I imagined her waiting for me to arrive in her life. Prior to our meeting, we had both spent time alone and worked to consciously clear our old “baggage” – hence, no luggage on the island - so that we’d be prepared for the highest level of relationship possible when we met.
The idea for this commissioned painting was inspired by Annie’s story about her son, James. An American living in England, James is married to PJ, another man who is not a US citizen. As gay marriage is not recognized by US Immigration, they cannot return here without his husband risking deportation. If he were married to a woman, it would not be an issue. The sand castle (which he loved making as a child) symbolizes the ideal world that would allow her James and PJ to return to his home country- one in which all unions of love will be treated equally and with the same reverence. A world that we are all waiting for and creating. And the bird gazing across the sea represents Annie longing for her son to return home.
When we invite someone into our lives on an intimate level, we give them a key that very few people in our lives will carry. And whether we verbalize it or not, what we are saying is: “Make yourself at home in my heart. You are safe here. I will hide nothing, and you may come and go as you please. Take what you will, just remember to replace it with what is most valuable to you. I will care for it like it was my own. And together, we will be rich.”
I found this mysterious box in a second hand store in Santa Fe, NM, and was intrigued by its shape and design. I bought it with the intention of using it in a painting some day. Here it represents the container of our inner voice, that I believe speaks to each of us when we give it our attention. The ‘key’ is acting on the small hunches and gut feelings, that when trusted and followed, will become stronger and clearer over time and lead us down the path of our highest purpose. I have had psychic readings and been amazed by what was accessed and shared by people who didn’t know me. But nothing compares to us trusting that innate intuition within ourselves.
Inspired by a fellow artist, W. Bradley Elsberry, who created a dress made from eucalyptus bark. His creation sparked an idea that became this painting. The woman serves as respite to the birds flying in mid-ocean. All of us have some place or person that serves as our personal sanctuary. It may be a lover, a child or a parent, home, God, or a combination of all of these. It is a place where we know we are safe to be our true selves without fear of judgement. And in that safety we are free to grow and flower. For me this painting also relates - as many of my works do - to the relationship with my wife, who magically appeared as my personal island of sanctuary during a particularly heavy open-ocean crossing.
Behind the paper is written the secrets of the heart. The longings, joys, sadness, dreams. As deeply as we share our innermost selves with those closest to us, there is always a hidden place that we alone ever fully enter. Where only we know the pathways. It is sweet, sacred, and profound. As heavy as the darkness, and as light as a butterfly's wings. It is the blueprint of our lives. The contents of our hearts.
I was at Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’keefe lived near my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw this door leading into what was a root cellar for the old ranch house that has become a museum. It was a beautiful metaphor for what we often experience in times of turmoil and doubt: the dark night of the soul. The globe with the flame in the center represents a human soul in its purest state. Here seen emerging from it's dark night purified, delivered, enlightened. And the ravens represent the shepherds of the unfolding mystery. This is one of my most deeply personal paintings.
Like most of my works, there is both a personal and a universal message. The previous 3 years my life had encompassed more change - much of it painful – than I had ever experienced before. However, in the midst of it there was an unshakable foundation of love that has seen me through to a place I never dreamed I would find myself in. The building symbolizes my search for ‘a home’ during this time, while the stones relay a precarious balance that is belied by the fact that it has withstood over time. As shown by the rootedness of the tree. The bottom, heart-shaped stone is the foundation of love and a trust that all is happening just as it should. This is my life in pictures.
This image has two meanings for me. One, it is the first painting I did using my wife as a model. She didn’t know it then, but I married her in part because she is so damned photogenic and will provide me with many years of free modeling services. And two, because this is how I see her - and she beautifully reflects a concept I cherish. That of living with a deep sense of grace. A knowing that we will never be placed in a situation, no matter how desperate it may feel at the time, without the means to come out of it a wiser and more evolved person. With a ballerina’s poise, she balances atop an impossibly high pile of stones. A small flock of doves flies in to counterbalance her weight. She checks the weather. Mostly sunny.
Like the other paintings in the Happiness Series, this is about creating the life of our desiring. The multiple dwellings represent my growing community of like-minded friends who do not wait for something to appear in their lives to give them cause to be happy. But are molding their physical experiences to reflect their inner happiness. Each home also has both an indoor and an outdoor space. Symbolic to me of the healthy blending of the public and private places within our lives. The reference scene (minus the huge stacked stones, of course) was shot at the beach near my studio on a magically lit summer’s evening that warms my heart to remember it.
My girl is always telling me to “dream it up”. She is one of the few who know that we create our experience and physical environment based on our beliefs and thoughts. Those who wait for outer experiences to make them happy are at a large disadvantage. Happiness is simply a choice based on our desire for it. Our corresponding outer experiences will always mold themselves to reflect our inner state. This one’s for you darling.
This idea evolved from a photo that I took of my then 9 yr old son, Everest. His deadpan expression with those glasses begged for a whimsical composition. It morphed into a study of how we often hide our differences – and our unique brilliance – to fit in with “the norm”. My son is such a shining soul, and it pained me during those years to see him try to not stand out for fear of being different. I know I did the same in my youth.
This is about the folly of envy. We envy someone because we think we can’t be or achieve what they are or have. Like the bird that has forgotten it can fly, we diminish ourselves when we forget that we have the ability to attain whatever goal we can imagine. But we usually don’t realize that the material accumulations someone else has is not truly what we want. What we truly want is simply to be happy. And we assume that if we have the stuff the other person has we will be. But it is only when we pursue our own nature - our personal dreams and callings (which may or may not include any physical stuff) - will we then be living a life that will be worth envying.
My cat was eyeing some giant ravens at the time, which I knew she would never catch. But as I watched, my own story evolved about what the cat may be thinking - which was, “how can I bring the birds to me”? So it became a study about temptation, deception and cunning, both in the animal and the human world. About people pretending to be something other than what they are as a means to an end. Aside from the sometimes resulting pain, this aspect of human nature can be quite comical in its transparency when viewed with hindsight.
This image plays further with the idea that we all have open, exposed spaces in our lives and also closed, sheltered ones. It could be home vs work. Or solitude vs relationship. It also symbolizes the new place I had reached in my life at the time - where after much mindful contemplation (represented by the open sided temple) and raw exposure to my own suffering, I found a place of emotional and physical shelter in my new relationship with my wife (as represented by the closed, intimate hut).
While taking photos in the city of San Jose, Costa Rica, I saw this doorway going into the side off a hill. I looked inside but couldn’t see where it led. This scene was a beautiful metaphor for what we often experience in times of turmoil and doubt: the dark night of the soul. The globe with the flame in the center represents a human soul in its purest state. Here seen emerging from it’s dark night – purified, delivered, enlightened. The ravens are the gate keepers of this mystery. And the incense or fire smoke coming from the pipe represents the internal fire of experience that gives perspective and cleanses us.
An idea created partly in response to the events of 9/11. I was considering the manner in which so many died on that day, and wondering: is it possible that a person can depart the physical plane so suddenly, that it may be unaware of the transition? In this painting, the man is standing on a rock which symbolizes the earth, and also the building’s ruble. He is holding onto a rope which represents his connection to life. He expects it to reach to the earth/physical plane. Instead, it circles back out of his view into the beak of the raven. Which throughout my work symbolize messengers from other dimensions and keepers of the mystery. The rope then disappears into an unseen dimension as the raven ferries the man into the next life.
Years ago I started collecting heart shaped stones with my kids from a nearby river (Dad pays a buck for each stone!). In my studio I played with incorporating them into my work, as I loved the duality of their symbolism – the lightness of heart coupled with the heavy, solidity of the earth. Wrapping them in raffia and suspending them gave me an interesting visual. And I began contemplating the connection between the spiritual and physical as I often do. I had recently read a book by Carolyn Myss called Sacred Contracts. It discusses how, prior to incarnation, we make contracts with ourselves and others to accomplish certain things in a given lifetime. So I added the scroll as a symbol of our contracts. The jewel represents our unique identity. The curtain background is the ‘stage’ of human experience. The heart stone – LOVE– holds it all in place, and makes it all worthwhile.
This painting was done from photos I took on a misty, foggy day on the beach walking distance from my studio. The mood – especially the light coming from the partially obscured sun just out of view – recalled my experiences as a Hospice volunteer. Being present at the passing of several people from this life has affected me in a very deep and ironically uplifting way. The bubbles with flames in their centers represent the souls of the departed floating peacefully out to sea. Released of all struggle and fear and limitation. This is the way I imagine death to be for the one passing on: a beautiful and liberating step into a broader awareness. Like exiting a stuffy, smoky room. Or removing a too tight pair of shoes.
This is about illusions. About how our perceptions cause us to see things that aren’t always there. And to not see things that are. The rock hangs from a cloud, the rose casts no shadow, but a shadow from a non-existent bird is present. Trompe l’oeil, or “Fooling the Eye” is an art form that began in the Renaissance when artists learned to depict an object so accurately that it appeared real. Falling in love can literally change our view of the world. It disturbs our reality in such a way that the definitions we once gave to certain things as ‘real’ are no longer relevant and anything is possible. I love being in love for exactly this reason.
This painting is my interpretation of achieving one’s desires through inner alignment vs. outer efforts. The long ladder represents the struggle of exertion to achieve a goal. Not that action is unnecessary. I believe it’s integral. But until we can envision the object of our desire in our mind’s eye with full expectation of it’s manifestation and of our deserving of it, we can work 24/7 and will never attain it. The bird’s eyes are covered to symbolize his inward focus, without concern for outer reality. The cherries - being the object of the bird’s desire – are within his reach. And though they look like they can be reached by the ladder in the distance, the tree and ladder (physical effort) are in fact far away and secondary to belief, desire and expectation.
This was created as a companion piece to “Sojourn”. Another snapshot of liberation from the physical realm taken a few seconds before.
This painting is about the concept of children unconsciously taking on the often outdated beliefs of their parents. Reflecting on my life as I reached my 40’s and as a parent myself, I saw my own cycles of unconscious behaviors that I followed and sometimes projected onto my kids. The concept of adopting “the sins of the father” became very clear to me. As the bird/child is hauling the ridiculously large burden, the father is sanctified and idolized in his eyes, as represented by the beads around the foreground bird’s neck. An unquestioning adoption of a no longer relevant behavior. I believe that our parents are always acting out of the desire to protect their children. Yet it is the children’s responsibility to determine what serves them and what doesn’t. The bird always has the ability to release the rope and the burden it willingly carries.
I was taking reference photos in San Diego’s Balboa Park one morning. I took a break by the fountain and observed a very curious looking man get up from a bench, put on his pack and walk away over a bridge. There was an eerie fog along the ground that was just clearing. I never saw the man’s face. I wanted to, and even followed him. But he never turned. At first I thought he was a homeless person, but it was a different kind of homelessness. I can’t quite explain, but it was almost like he didn’t belong on earth. The whole episode was rather surreal. Back in my studio I was looking through the photos and the idea of him walking into and across the reflecting pool came to me. For all I know he was an ethereal being, briefly touching down on the earth, for my artistic benefit.
I was taking some photos around the Salton Sea near Palm Springs, CA. It’s a ‘dead sea’, yet on this day it felt and looked very primordial. As if life could have just been evolving from there. During the same time I was reading about sacred geometry — and especially about the theories of the Italian mathematician Fibinacci — and how they relate to, and are blueprints for, the growth of all physical substance. In this painting, I put those concepts into the framework of the spirit of any given life form moving into it’s physical manifestation. The birds represent the unconditional dance of joy that celebrates each and every creation. The seashell is a symbol of birth, and the staff and visica pices symbol, represent balance. In that nothing in creation is inherently good or bad. But it only our personal perception and experience that judges it so.
This painting is about the willingness to risk. The stone, having sat in the safety of its nest, has been given ‘training wings’ and is being lifted by a cloud. What causes any of us to be willing to risk the unknown is a mystery that greatly intrigues me. Perhaps a desire to move forward towards a future joy, or the fear of stagnating, or a profound love that calls us forth. Either way, once we have ventured from our safety zone, a new journey of expansion is begun. As was insightfully penned by the writer Anais Nin, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.”
Narrative coming soon.
I was shooting reference photos at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. When I got the prints back, the way the sunlight was and interacting with the lens and atmosphere created a clear human shape. It was quite eerie. I took some liberties when recreating it on canvas, but this is not far from the original shot.
This was painted during a particularly difficult period in my life. I had ruined my marriage and was in the middle of an all-around identity crisis. In an attempt to get myself centered again, I decided to work on a new painting based on studies of Michelangelo, Raphael, and other Renaissance masters. As I sketched ideas, this image came to me of a soft but strong angelic presence, whispering that it would all work out. That we are loved beyond measure. That we cannot fail at life. She has always hung in my living room wherever I’ve lived. My 3 yr old grandson spends a lot of time looking at it. I’ve never talked to him about the meaning or subject matter of this painting. But once, after spending the weekend with us, he went back to his mother’s and was attempting to describe it to her. All he could say, was simply, “All Hope.”
Narrative coming soon.
The angel outside of this building is longing to be of service – to do his job. His charge is inside, behind closed doors and windows. Unwilling to be assisted. I believe that there is always help for us from physical and non-physical sources. We are never thrown into a situation in life without the means to pull ourselves out of it. But so often we become so deeply attached to our own suffering that we can’t see the angels for the feathers.
Narrative coming soon.
This began as a cloud study. Inside which I became wonderfully lost while painting them. But it evolved into what could be the prelude to The Longing. It has been hypothesized that each of us has one or more sprit-based guides throughout our lives. I don’t doubt this to be true. In the center of the painting, an angel, barely visible in the clouds, is on an earthbound mission.
There is a style of art known as trompe l'oeil which is French for 'deceive the eye'. It is a technique involving rendering realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the objects appear in three dimensions. I happen to believe that the entire universe is a trompe l'oeil painting (and boy, did we get sucked in!). It is through our desires that every new scene evolves, as represented by the orange rose which symbolizes desire and enthusiasm. What is written on the scroll is our individual and personal story that gives us the motivation to create an ever evolving living painting.
There is a trail that leads to 4-Mile Falls, north of Pagosa Springs in southwest Colorado. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, and I loved hiking that path when I lived there. The locals call that area “God’s Country” (as if God would only hang out in one area, but, whatever). Looking over some of the photos I took on a particular trip, I rolled that concept around in my head. Nearby was my then infant son, playing on the ground. Fascinated and completely enthralled with whatever it was he was doing. Eureka! I could finally go to bed with the idea for my next painting completed.
Narrative coming soon.
Again, a piece that began as a cloud study evolved into a dreamy element of birds in flight. Freedom was the concept that came to mind as I painted this. And freedom from time, which is what happens to me when I paint - I lose all concept of time – became synonymous with this painting.