It is hard to answer the question of why I paint without using over-used and non-specific words like “passion”, “drive” or “love”. Because of the scale and detail of my paintings, they take a long time to paint – giving me plenty of time to think about things like this!
So much of my painting comes back to nature. I feel more connected when I am outdoors… I breathe differently, I think differently, and I see differently. I was recently talking with a writing friend of mine who talked about his experience being in nature as “spiritual” – and while this term can be as over-used and non-specific as “passion”, “drive” or “love” – it fits for me.
When I teach art, one of my first lessons is always about the importance of drawing (or painting) what you see – not what you think you see. The idea is to truly take the time to study your subject and all of the subtleties that you may miss when just noticing something instead of really seeing it. I spend a lot of time observing, but nowhere is this more the case than when in the woods or on the water. When I am observing, it is not so much about beautiful sunsets or grand vistas, but the amazing power and drama in the details. It is this uncontrollable and spiritual connection I have with seeing the details of nature that makes it hard for me to not paint what I see – and ultimately what I feel.
“April Showers” is no exception. After a delayed – and therefore prolonged- winter, I took advantage of early May weather somewhat resembling spring to get out for a short hike with my wife Gwynne, my daughter Mia and my son Beck. As often happens on these outings, I dropped behind here and there to stop and take pictures of things that caught my interest. One of these stops was at a small stream rushing from steady late-April rains. At first glance, there was nothing unusual or spectacular about the stream – but I was pulled in by the amazing shapes in the reflections, and the serene yet dramatic motion created by those shapes. The longer I spent looking (and getting further behind in the hike!), the more I was amazed by what I saw.
Often times, I hold on to pictures for a while before I am inspired to paint them – but this time, I started painting from these pictures the next week. “April Showers” is about awe in small things – a small stream swollen from rain reflecting countless small details that make something much larger.