How did you get started doing what you do?
I started painting seriously in oil paint in my 30s, while working as an advertising art director in Los Angeles. I did mostly atmospheric cityscapes of Los Angeles, working outdoors. Later, in New York, I did a series of surrealistic views of suburbs mostly from my imagination, using the house as a symbol of the self. Now I’m painting pop art influenced paintings of crumpled paper, candy, food and other objects with an emphasis of light, translucency and reflections.
How would you describe your creative style?
Painterly realism with a strong design sense from abstract art. I like a certain degree of finish, but I want my paintings to read as paintings, not as photographs or photo realism.
What’s your inspiration?
The world around us. Painting from reality keeps the work full of the unexpected. When I was painting just from the imagination, I found I was repeating images over and over. Painting from life means you’re constantly surprised by imagery that you could never invent. At the same time, the artist controls the painting, not the subject. In the end, the painting takes on a life of its own.
What does your typical day look like?
I try to treat painting as a job, establishing a regular rhythm of working. I store yesterday’s paint and paint mixtures on a piece of plastic under water, so I can pick up painting the next day with the same colors. Always there are interruptions, including the business side of art, but I try to keep productive through it all.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
Usually two or three weeks, depending on the size and the number of interruptions. If I’m painting fruit or vegetables, I usually work small enough to finish in less than a week. The food rots by then! I don’t paint from photographs, so it can be a race against time.
How have others reacted to your work?
I’ve been gratified by positive reactions from curators, dealers and collectors. About half my paintings are in private collections, some sold through galleries; most sold directly by myself. I’ve had four one-person shows and been in numerous group shows. Being an artist can be a solitary life, and going to gallery openings and meeting others in the art world is an important part of being an artist.
What art supplies do you use?
I paint exclusively in oil paint, mostly Gamblin and Williamsburg. My medium is usually Utrecht safflower oil, that yellows less than linseed oil and is slower drying, which lets me paint longer wet into wet. I paint entirely without solvents, being extremely sensitive to them. I paint on white, acrylic primed, cotton or linen canvas. Even brush cleaning is done without solvents, using vegetable oil, dish detergent and brush soap.
What’s your process like?
Sketches and more sketches, moving and changing objects and lighting until something magical happens, often by accident. After drawing with charcoal on canvas, I’ll refine the drawing with water soluble pencil, wiping off the charcoal. The water soluble pencil lines aren’t affected by the first lay-in of oil paint. I go for the final values and colors right away, but it takes two or three coats before the painting feels finished. I don’t do underpainting or glazing; just simple, opaque painting using a generous amount of paint. I paint directly from the subject, not using photographs.
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