ALTERNATE ATMOSPHERIC MOODS OF LANDSCAPE
I am drawn to southern waters, originally as a kayaker, then as a hiker, and now as an artist. As with old friends, I feel a sense of comfort in these places, whatever the weather, and return to them time and time again. Wilderness areas with watershed environments are key components of my work. Through travel and exploration in Georgia and surrounding states in the southern region, this representational series of plein air studies and studio paintings documents the virgin rivers and creeks of the south over a three-year period. Plentiful and easily accessible in my early lifetime, these wilderness areas have been greatly impacted by urbanization and encroached upon by society, making them less accessible and changing their very nature. My intent is to document the wild heart and soul of these areas.
Each painting begins as a unique adventure: a personal journey of discovery in which I search, seek and uncover an elusive area of pristine beauty. These areas can be far away or lie hidden right under one's feet. I often go to great lengths — hiking long distances, wading streams, climbing and standing on cliff edges — just to find the right viewpoint. My easel, palette, oils, brushes, and canvases are carried in a backpack. Painting on location, surrounded by the chosen landscape with its unique sights, sounds and weather, helps me to capture its essence and mood. These southern watershed landscapes are overflowing in rich detail —thick forests, ferny undergrowth, the movement of water and its reflections, rocks and limbs that are visible both above and below the surface of the water — all these impressions must be edited, simplified and abstracted during the painting process. In this series of paintings I interpret the colors through a limited palette that is either high key, low key, or of medium value. My plein air paintings provide the inspiration for larger studio paintings. By returning to the same places at different times of the day and year, I have created a series of paintings with a variety of expressive moods.
In searching for places to paint, I am confronted with an increasing number of physical boundaries which block my access. Areas I used to explore freely are sometimes claimed as personal property, posted with “No Trespassing” signs or overdeveloped, becoming off-limits to the general public. Perhaps not as grand as national parks, yet unique and beautiful in their own quieter way, these southern watershed areas deserve to be recognized as worthy of our protection. Without some control of our suburban sprawl we could soon lose many more of these areas. I search for and paint these areas to capture their beauty while they are still accessible and in their purest form.