Having lived most of my life in an urban setting, I have always felt a powerful attraction toward life in the raw, primal wilderness. In art school, I walked every day through a jungle of concrete and steel to our building wedged between canyons of skyscrapers in the city.
To escape the cacophony of honking horns and screeching sirens, I would often escape to the mountains of western Pennsylvania. Basking in the open spaces and fresh air, I felt a rush of freedom and exhilaration.
Back in the city, I would spend hours in the Carnegie Museum of Art, gazing at paintings from the Hudson River School. I wondered what it would be like to live in America during the early days of exploration. I imagined stumbling across a natural wonder like Niagara Falls and seeing it for the first time with innocent eyes. What would it have been like to witness that kind of sublime beauty before our culture had turned it into a cliché with snow globes, souvenirs, and neon lights?
Within me, there is an ageless adventurer who feels a constant pull to be outside,
in nature, hiking new trails. Exploring the forests of America has been a life-long form of therapy for me. Out in the woods, my mind stops racing, deadlines disappear, and I don't reach for my phone. I bring my art supplies and sketch. I write notes, paint, and take photos. I look for scenes that capture my imagination: the infinite variety of shapes and textures, color, and the play of light.
Water is a recurring element in my paintings because I view water as natures' sculptor; carving and smoothing surfaces while tirelessly changing the landscape from one shape to another.
Back in my studio, I re-live those experiences. I build compositions based on my sketches, photos and memory. I don't necessarily try to faithfully document a specific scene, as much as I try to capture the mood and healing energy of nature. I want to put the viewer in a space where the forces of nature restore and cleanse the mind and spirit.
There is no going back to the days of the Hudson River School. But, here in America, we are blessed to live in a country that is committed to preserving nature through a robust national park system. The dramatic diversity of our country's wilderness from coastal areas to forests and mountainous areas, to wetlands, marshes, prairies, and deserts, are, in part, protected by our national parks. My goal as a painter is to focus on art works that honor each of our national parks.