My own origins were very transitional as a child and my exposure to suburban, and rural living had a major impact on how I saw the world around me. My family moved from Maryland, my mother’s home, to Eastern KY, my father’s birthplace. I was about 10 or 11 when we moved. The coal mining town I lived in for much of my formative life literally colored the world I saw… gray coal dust settled on everything and the lush vibrancy of foliage was hidden and shrouded in a dusky veil. This was in contrast to the more suburban world I had been born into, with matching little houses along tree lined streets and symmetry that implied belonging.
My work is grounded in the natural botanical world. It is also truly autobiographical. All that is our environment is both ancient and new, layered with what has been and what is about to become. I explore the transition of the organic and human imposed elements in our environment.
I often have a hint of broken fencing in my landscapes… I use that element to represent the many broken moments in my childhood… post markers always remain while the rails of fence fall away over time. The posts stand as a reminder and memorial to the history of the events.
I sometimes follow the rules and other times I don’t. Growing up I learned the importance of knowing rules, but I also learned that there are times to break the rules. When I incorporate pattern paper, or a bit of found textile, I feel like the “rules” understand and take a seat. I hope the viewer is drawn in and feels the poetry of each layer and expressive wash or phantom line. My technique is my own adaptive and non-traditional application of watercolor, graphite and mixed media elements.
In my Melancholy of Landscapes series, the first thing I do to begin a new piece is create the horizon line to ground the painting. The lines of movement for the landscape are formed out of the horizon line. I pick up my grease pencil and lay in that first black line and build from there. I often use a random straight edge to block out the form of structure sitting within the landscape, but I don’t overdo the structure because it is just a representation of structure. I pick up wax sticks or crayons to make organic marks on the horizon line to build in life and interest. I often have a hint of broken fencing in my landscapes… I use that element to represent the many broken moments in my childhood… post markers always remain while the rails of fence fall away over time. The posts stand as a reminder and memorial to the history of the events.
Once I have all the linear elements established it is time to lay in color. My color palette is always heavy with gray for the ashen coal dust that covered the Appalachian landscapes… sheer panoramas of gray on gray… down every road, next to the creeks, topping the mountains… GRAY… over time I embraced it, and awaited… the glorious yellow of buttercups, and marigolds, and daffodils… the yellow always arrived from below the gray.
I use Payne’s Gray and Naples yellow watercolor consistently throughout this series as it is intrinsic to the deepest of meaning of the work.
The application of washes is intuitive, but I am always mindful to let my work rest before I lay in more color than is necessary. It is important to me to use repetition of marks or references in this work. Common marks like the black door and single window are made with improvised tools like chipboard edges. The marks are unique to the tool I create and always have their own personality. The marks represent our small little cabin’s single window, and the doorway was always buried in the shadows… not a welcoming majestic door, but more of an opening for shelter. As the structure implies it is simple shelter, enough… just enough. Enough can be grand and can be beautiful.
Once I finish a piece, I let it speak to me and create the title. My titles are as important as the creation itself, I want the viewer to have a reference of text to consider along with the image.