In this way I use photography as a means to an end. My artwork is composited from many images and involves complex layering and digital painting to create the final result. My photo library has over 100,000 images at this point that I draw from, and it grows by the day. This photographic journal keeping forms a personal, arbitrary, asymmetrical time chart that is deeply resonant for me and key to my understanding of what it means to be alive and of this world. My camera brings me in closer. I find that I come into a kind of “presence” where all the other daily noise in my life disappears. In that moment there is just a baby eagle testing its wings, or the dark play of light on a red lacquered fungi.
These moments bring me tremendous joy and a sense of peace. I feel fortunate that I am able to have the time and opportunity to make these kinds of connections with the natural world. Nothing has been more gratifying than when someone writes to me—after spending days in a hospital themselves or with a loved one—to say that an artwork of mine, hanging in a corridor, buoyed their spirits. It goes without saying that I believe in the curative powers of natural world exposure. If I can bring a representation of nature inside so that someone not so able to be outdoors can receive its benefit, then I feel I have done a good deed.
I continue to be inspired by the work of William Morris’ and other designers of Britain’s Aesthetic Movement. Morris designed with an assurance that could only be gained from observing nature first hand. I appreciate that. I present portfolios of work in several different ways but there often are references to interior decoration: tapestries, repeating patterns, borders, ornamental detail. Many are layered over designs by William Morris, Ernst Haeckel and others which provide a formal, organizing armature. Although traces remain visible, the past is abandoned in favor of improvisational detail and elaborate surfaces. Early natural history painters inspired my “Cabinet of Curiosity” portfolio while artists and craftspeople who worked on natural history dioramas inspired the “Captive Splendor” series as did Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs of the Natural History Museum in NY. Ross Bleckner and Walton Ford are two painters who I never tire of.
Transforming inspiration into a new body of work, however, is not quite as easy. I sometimes unravel new possi- bilities as I swim laps or pull weeds. I have an abundance of ideas but not the hours available to sit in front of a computer screen. I get stiff! Inspiration lurks everywhere: for example, the wonderful use of a slightly disturbing wallpaper in the opening credits of “The White Lotus” as well as a deck of playing cards that I was given with a dif- ferent bird painting by Jessie Arms Botke on each card. Out in the garden, I’m inspired by what I manage to grow; by the haunting, distinctive calls heralding the spring return of sandhill cranes. I’m inspired by the hard work of all migrating birds and their miraculous abilities to find their way home.
As an observer of nature, I am repeatedly stopped in my tracks to wonder, “How in the world did this happen?” I am piecing together a visual language that attempts to communicate these personal experiences of transcen- dence in the hopes that connections will be formed.