What is my art about?

People always want to know what a particular piece of art is about, what it is supposed to be, what it is supposed to mean. It’s hard for me to do this with my art, since (at least with my oil paintings) I don’t set out with a specific goal in mind when creating a piece. When I start a painting, I generally have only a shadow of an idea in mind of what the finished piece might look like. I often incorporate a juxtaposition of organic objects and man-made structures. And the painting grows organically as I go.

My watercolors are a bit different in that I usually have a specific goal in mind of creating an illustration of a particular object or theme.

I want to love every single square inch of my paintings. I want to have favorite areas that I can look at over and over again and never get tired of it. I want my art to be fun, complex, fascinating, surreal, and to find a new way of seeing it every time I look at it.

I can’t pretend that I ascribe some sort of deep meaning to my pieces if I don’t — but if that’s what YOU get out of it, GREAT! That’s what I want. My art is all about you. If you can relate to it, apply it to your life, find personal meaning in it, if it fascinates you and makes you want to keep looking at it, if you can point to part of it and say “that’s my favorite bit,” then you’ve just made me successful.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for looking at my art. I hope you enjoy it and that you find your own joy and meaning in my work.

Want to know more?

How I came to be an artist

I have been painting and drawing ever since I can remember. My mom kept art supplies in old 5-gallon cardboard ice cream tubs in the laundry room. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer, “an artist or a writer or a chef.” In grade school, I loved to draw pictures of imaginary girls, mostly wearing ballet shoes and tutus, and gave them long strange names. I high school, I was interested in the concept of time and did a lot of pieces involving clocks.

In college, I took almost every art class offered and realized a number of things:

  • I respect the skill of anyone who can draw or sketch, because I am not particularly great at it;
  • I love clay and 3-D sculpture but it’s not really my forté; and
  • Painting is where I excel.

We weren’t really allowed to do much oil painting in high school, I guess because of the fumes. Otherwise I think I would have fallen in love with it sooner.

When I graduated college, I got a job at a university that I fully intended to be temporary. But it was the mid-1990s and there was this new thing called the Internet, and since I had art and design skills, the university let me work on designing a page for them. That morphed into my career as a web designer. I am skilled in web design, app design ,email design, HTML, CSS, a bit of JS and PHP, user experience, and WordPress, among other things (see my resume for more details).

My artistic interests and influences

Painters at my university were strongly encouraged to develop our own styles, so I did. This does not happen in all schools. I was very interested in the classical styles of German Expressionism and Cubism, particularly Chagall, Rothko, Marc, and Braque.

I’m fascinated by buildings and cities in juxtaposition with nature, and my style has grown to encompass that. This generally manifests itself in my work as a fantasy kind of nature. My cities and buildings are representational and stylized as well. I love the idea of nature taking back its space, engulfing man made objects. A lot of my objects are part man made, part natural… such as perfect shiny metallic spheres emerging from plantlike tendrils.

Some of my favorite, more modern, artists are: Tim Biskup, Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, Jay Long, Gary Baseman, Phyllis Bramson, Philip Straub, Karen Eastman, and Ray Caesar.

My soapbox philosophy on Good Art and Bad Art

I was taught never to be snooty about art. Painting is art. Music is art. Dancing is art. Crafts are art. Anything you do that satisfies a creative itch inside you is art.

I cannot categorize art into “good” vs. “bad.” Good and bad are highly personal and subjective terms. I get irritated when I hear anyone deem a piece of art “not very good” based on whatever special Art World Knowledge they posess that makes them consider themselves an expert on the subject.

I believe that, in the mainstream art world, pretty much anything can be considered art as long as the explanation that goes along with it is esoteric enough. A 5-year-old’s drawing would be perfectly acceptable in a gallery in The Art World, as long as the little plaque on the wall next to it uses enough big words that The Art World loves to hear. I have heard enough mainstream gallery owners speak that it has become clear to me that unless you are prepared to act pretentious and kiss a lot of butt, you are never going to make it as an artist in that world.

I identify more with the subculture of folk art, outsider art, street art, rebellion art, crafts, comic books, pop surrealism, performance art, toys, and other forms of art that are often met with derision by The Art World.