“ What people subconsciously are interested in is the expression of beauty…something that shocks them out of themselves and something that makes them believe in the beauty and glory of human existence. “
—Charles Hawthorne, Introduction to Hawthorne on Painting
I’ve been living in Tucson for over 50 years, first arriving in 1965, leaving briefly for college in the late 60’s, and returning in 1969 to finish a BA in English Literature at the University of Arizona. Much of that 50 years I spent outdoors, hiking and backpacking, learning the desert, and developing an attachment that some acquire for the Sonoran Desert, this place I call home.
Nearly 30 years ago, my wife Nancy and I began to seriously collect original art. Many of the paintings are of the American Southwest, and many are from local Tucson artists. Until my recent retirement, I owned my own portfolio management company, and much of our collection went on the walls of my office here in Tucson. Many of my clients identified my company with the original art that graced the walls.
Years ago, and for reasons I can no longer recall, I began to think I could paint. On a Saturday, maybe twenty years ago, I stood in front of painting after painting, studying each one: the composition, color, values, down to the individual brush strokes. I took several of the smaller paintings off the wall and sat in a chair, holding each in my lap, truly studying it to see what made it work. After hours of study, I concluded: “This can’t be that hard.”
I was wrong.
That’s how my art career was born, with a monumentally wrong-headed notion that all I needed was canvas, a brush, turpentine and paint. I started by taking an art class, then another, and another. And still another, until it was made abundantly clear to me that producing good art is REALLY hard. But I inherited stubbornness in my DNA, and anyway, I was hooked, so I stayed with it.
So there was no formal art education for me, no degree from an art school. I had a business to run, in addition to being a husband and father. Instead, I took advantage of 3- and 5-day workshops taught by working, professional artists. The courses ranged from instruction in landscapes, portrait and figurative painting, both oil and charcoal. Some of the artists I have studied with include Phil Starke, Matt Smith, Ned Muller, Kenn Backhaus, Laura Robb, John Michael Carter, Chauncey Homer, Gabor Svagrik, Henry Yan, and Gregg Kreutz. I’m not sure that’s even half.
Philosophically, I’m a representational painter. In particular, I don’t care much for ‘modern art’, whatever that means, because I don’t see that there is skill involved. Painting should involve skill, at the very least an ability to draw. It shouldn’t involve merely throwing paint at a canvas, or arranging colorful cubes or lines in an ‘abstraction’.
Neither do I care for paintings that look like photographs, although I can appreciate the discipline it must take to paint like that.
I am attracted to representational, ‘painterly’ works, of all kinds: landscape, portraiture, and still life. The painters who inspire me, and set a very high standard for all of us, are John Singer Sargent, Joaquim Sorolla, and Anders Zorn, to name only a few.
I paint light. I don’t paint a mountain, I paint the way sunlight falls on the mountain. Accordingly, I find that I’m attracted to subjects that have interesting, unique light. If a subject is boring to me, it usually is because it has no interesting light. I am fortunate to be living in a part of the world that delivers stunning displays of early morning and late evening light. That’s what I’m drawn to, and that’s what I hope to capture.
I’m retired now, from a long career in finance and portfolio management. The tie I wore each day to the office has been traded in for an artist’s apron. I paint every day. With each new painting, I try to capture light in a way that is new to the viewer, to make them see the world in a different way, to have them believe, if only for a moment, in the beauty and glory of human existence.
I appreciate your interest in my work. Please enjoy.