Mixed Media 2016
For the past 20 years, I’ve made it a practice to walk at least 2-3 miles a day, rain or shine--the more weather the better. These walks are essential to my process. On my walks, I collect the tangibles (bones, fossils, shells) and the intangibles (thoughts, impressions, colors, the memories of dreams) that will yield the work back in my studio.
The Stinson series is no exception. Springing from beach walks in Northern CA, most of the series, (Stinsons 1-6) are drawn from one particular walk on a morning early in January, 2016. They’re an attempt to capture the play of light and water, the reflections and refraction of this especially crystalline morning.
These “paintings” are made entirely of torn paper glued onto wooden panels with acrylic medium. Some of the papers were selected for their color, some were painted first, and in some cases the paint was applied in washes after the paper was already mounted. The papers vary widely, from heavy stock German printing papers to fine Japanese gampi and kozo tissues, to Danish sandwich-wrappingpaper.
My collage process evolved out of a passion for the material. As a print maker, I love the special qualities of a variety of papers, but have been frustrated at having to display my work behind a pane of glass. Collage has allowed me in some sense to free the paper. By building up the surface with many layers of sheer overlapping papers, I’ve also found a way to achieve some of the shimmering refractive qualities that originally attracted my eye in nature.
Indian Stones 2013
My subject is a collection of tiny crinoid fossils gathered over many childhood summers on the shores of Lake Michigan. Named for their beadlike quality, Indian stones have the elemental appeal of a Japanese enso, or a Thiebaud doughnut.
Hunting for Indian stones is a contemplative act. Long hours pass unnoticed as you attune to the rhythms of the water, mulling and sifting. Your eye learns to spot a fossil as it's offered up on a wave, your fingers, to catch it before it’s withdrawn. Patience is rewarded by gifts from the lake that somehow always surprise.
The pieces in this series spring from a similarly meditative practice. On a typical day in the studio, I will drop a clutch of stones under a magnifying glass, shine a light on them, and paint what I see in sumi ink or gouache.
These studies give rise to the aquatints. Intaglio, with its slow accretive processes and its inevitable element of surprise, is a medium that feels particularly suited to this subject matter.
This series of black and white ink drawings and etchings are personal elegiacs in an age of environmental anxiety. Through them, I contemplate human time and geological memory; collective loss as well as private loss.
My subject here is still the crinoid fossils, those vestiges of marine creatures that flourished 350 million years ago when the Great Plains were covered with sea water. In this changing climate, the persistence of these tiny records of a remote age seems at once comforting and cautionary.