I was in my twenties when I took my first art class, an elective that rumor had it would be an easy “A”. I never expected to become so captivated. Though ultimately I completed two writing degrees, I continued taking art classes while pursuing a career and raising a family. Then a retrospective of the late collage artist Romare Bearden ignited my passion once again.
It was then that I chose art as a second career, studying on my own and with other wonderful artists locally and nationally. Significant turning points for me were my 11 months at the McColl Center for Visual Arts, a week long workshop in Wisconsin with Patricia Wheeler on “Architectural Painting,” and a mentorship with Katherine Chang Liu in Arizona.
I first began combining paper, fabric, and sewing as line, but the love of paint and texture eventually drew me to more solid surfaces. While I occasionally still work on paper and canvas, my favorite substrate is deep wood panels that provide a solid base for me to construct multi-layered, textured abstracts by adding to or subtracting from the surface.
I refer to my paintings as being “built” because I use found objects and hardware store paraphernalia to develop deep, organic textures. Each painting has multiple layers, sometimes as many as 10 or 12—layers that make the connections to …. Without the layers I feel the final piece of art would not have a voice. Words also continue to be important to me and are often included in my work with pages torn from old books or tiny fragments hidden beneath multiple layers of paint. My color palate is neutrals, colors found in nature, with bits of vibrancy and lots of detail. I want the painting to entice the viewer to get closer or move away as the textures and imagery changes with the focal distance.
Why do I paint what I paint? Sometimes the motivation is simple: wanting to communicate the feelings that surrounds me in the middle of the woods or while watching water cascading over rocks from 30 feet above me or waves cut trenches into the sand at high tide.
Other times it’s more complicated. I may get ideas from reading, listening to others, or writing in my journal. A painting is my method of working out these complex ideas and their relationship to one another. It becomes a mystery or a puzzle to be solved. Sometimes there is resolution. Other times the search continues, and I paint the same ideas over and over. But ultimately it is all connected, all a part of the great energy within us and surrounding us.
From time to time I am asked to teach workshops about my process. While these workshops are “technique based,” I attempt to incorporate some one-on-one coaching as well, since the artists may or may not continue to use these particular techniques. Often we go to workshops to “mix things up” because we feel stuck. This doesn’t mean changing completely, but rather encouraging the artist to review and concentrate on their process rather than the end product.
My work has been shown in galleries, corporate institutions, and national publications. I live and work in Charlotte, North Carolina.