"Drawing makes invention more accessible for me. Faster. Immediate. I start a drawing and I start to invent. I am always destroying the drawing’s status quo. I guess you could say I practice my own form of larceny. I sabotage reality, otherwise its like kissing without using your tongue. I can’t even cook a hamburger without messing with it… Before, often I lay down everything in a realistic way, but now, I have less patience for realism, my heart is too full. I need to release more emotion. I want more emotion and that gets in the way of realism. I want to cut the realism. Now, I’m letting off a lot of firecrackers, and I’m putting down a lot of ideas as though I was building with ideas. Things are coming up. Things are coming up and I have no way to speak about what the things are, but things are coming up that wouldn’t ordinarily grow next to each other. The depiction of physical energy on the paper and the disturbing of the paper’s surface are other ways to bring the drawing to life." Jim Dine
Questions by Liz Ramsey and answers by me for an Arizona Watercolor Association Newsletter article that will never be published because the newsletter editor left and no one has replaced her.
1.) What is your training in art? How did you acquire your skills in drawing and painting?
I don’t have a degree in art but I do have more semester credit hours in art than I do in History
which was my major at Northern Arizona University. My senior year all of my free electives were
art courses. Then I continued with courses in fine art after receiving my degree in history and
English Literature. I’ve been painting and drawing since I was 4 years old. So, practice, practice, practice!
2.) Do you come from a family of painters? Who encouraged you or influenced you to paint?
My aunt (Barbara Peterson) was the biggest influence. She was an artist and gave me my first canvas to paint on
when I was 4 years old. I still have that painting.
3.) What attracts you to a subject?
Usually the painting process itself. I’m an intuitive painter and at my best the painting directs me
towards the subject. That being said, my paintings have to do with the human condition.
4.) Describe your approach to a subject and your style.
I don’t consciously strive towards style. If that happens so be it. I suppose if it happens at all
it comes about as the result of my personal preference for composition and mark making. But
you’re going to have to count scrubbing, scraping and wiping as making marks too. If I stick the
brush in my left hand everything changes, but I like that. I’m always looking for new ways to
5.) Do you do preliminary sketches or a value study?
I consider everything I’ve ever done in life as preliminary
to whatever I’m working on but I don’t purposefully use any drawing as a preliminary to
something else. All of my work including drawings comes from the intuitive process mentioned
above. Value and chiaroscuro develop as part of the process.
6.) Do you like to have a live model or do you paint from photographs?
No but I’m considering a live model in the future as a different approach to figurative
abstraction. I do not paint from photographs.
7.) Do you have a studio space and do you also paint outdoors? Explain your preference and why.
I prefer painting in my studio. I have enough battles going on without the elements and curious
onlookers, and it’s really not conducive to my process.
8.) What do you consider was a breakthrough in your art?
Getting over the fear of what others say or think of me and/or my work.
9.) How has your approach to your art changed over the years?
See the answer to the previous question. It freed me up to paint as I wanted.
10.)What do you consider is the most important advice you can offer to another artist.
Fear not! Again, see the answer to the previous two questions.
11.)If you could take lessons from one of the masters, who would that be and why?
this is hypothetical I’d love to study with some of the masters. There are too many to mention.
12.)What do you consider are the basic principles that you follow when creating an art piece? When creating one must bear in mind it is essential to get the attention of the audience and
then keep their attention. Attention is created by using all of the skills you have learned (we never quit learning do we?). These include a multitude of possible composition and rendering skills. But keeping the attention of your audience is all about content. Content is who you are. It is what you wish to express, the story you want to tell or the
feelings you want to convey. This is where many artists miss the mark. Mere technical skill gives way to boredom when content is absent.
13.)What do you see in your future, as far as art is concerned?
I’m going to use the Magic Eight Ball Fortune Teller Paper Weight for this. OK, I’m shaking it up
real good... here comes the answer... it’s floating and bobbing a bit... now it’s flattening out ...
it is... MONEY!
14.)Where would you be found if not engaging in an art endeavor?
I like participating with family and friends in a variety of activities.
15.)What medium do you prefer and what type of paper and brushes do you use?
Watermedia on archival surfaces I suppose would be a preference. I use a
variety of acrylic and watercolor brushes as well as assorted other mark-making tools.
16.)How do you know when a painting is finished?
When it is sold. Any work still in my possession is subject to change, sometimes radical.
17.)What do you most want to convey to the viewer?
Only my work can answer that question. If I could answer it there would be no need for the
work and most likely I would not be compelled to make it. I want it to move me first then I know it's okay because it conveys a feeling or sense I can relate to.
18.)What kinds of things are you drawn to as subject matter? Embellish a little on this answer.
It’s interesting that you ask “things” because I think my work for the most part lies more in the
realm of spiritual than material. My thoughts on the human condition are simply this: There is a
spiritual battle which underlies our perception of reality. This battle perpetuates the human
condition. It is the battle between good and evil; right and wrong; love and fear; compassion
and greed; light and dark... I think you get the gist of it.
19.)What is the most rewarding thing about being an artist?
20.)Is there anything that I have left out that you would like to say?
Everything everywhere is on its way to somewhere else. Everything!