Today, when people speak of prints, often they really mean reproductions of original art, in any medium. But when artists make prints, each one is an original, no matter how large the edition. Before I started painting exclusively, I was making a body of work in the printmaking shop. Some of these were woodcuts, linocuts, etchings, & lithographs. I loved each one for its unique properties & process, but my real focus was silkscreen. Like painting, silkscreen is a layering process of color over color, shape over shape. At the time, it most suited my way of seeing and building an image. Initially I made my stencils by cutting numerous marks into tracing paper, but I soon switched to a photographic stencil method—which was still tedious but much more stable and expedient. I learned so much about mark-making and building a surface in printmaking, technical issues that I carried over into my painting. But after several years, painting stole my time...totally.
My Chronicle as an Artist
Painting is just another way of keeping a diary—Pablo Picasso
It took about 2 years for Chicago to feel like home. In this period of time I produced many small works on paper as paintings, drawings, and silkscreens. My technical approach of layered & obsessively thin lines with small brushes and delicate tools matched the hermetic introspection I was experiencing as a newcomer. But now my new world was expanding and I instinctively needed a larger scale and different approach. I started cutting out paper images of fish, birds, and other natural objects, and interwove them with bits of sewing notions such as ribbons, hooks, pins etc. I also dyed my own transparent rice papers to cut up and collage with these other objects. These resulting works, some examples shown here from the CutOutSeries, were an important growth spurt, pushing me to try bigger brushes & larger fields of canvas, and oils—for the first time.
I knew I wanted to create a body of work which was essentially about landscape. The pieces here are from a series called "The Lake is Not the Ocean". As I worked, I imagined flying over all the places I had loved and tracked my movement with a vocabulary of marks--wavy & straight lines, verticals & horizontals, dots & dashes. I used a paintbrush like a pencil, and the works were small & intricate. Chicago & Virginia melded together into unique places. Looking back on these & other works like them from this time period, I realize that my technical approach was not unlike the sewing & needlework projects of my teen years.
My life in Chicago and art school were inextricably bound for 7 years. Each had an immeasurable influence on my work. My map drawings, like those shown in the previous post, developed from colored pencil & conte materials into oil paintings. I thought of these as internal travel logs -- with a bird's eye viewpoint. The natural landscape of my East coast past combined with the architectural footprints of city buildings that I now saw looking out the window from the elevated trains that I rode daily.
After leaving university, I set off for Chicago, with a conviction that I wanted to study art....How i would enter this great institution and with what means, was still rather vague. I worked odd jobs and, for the first time in my life, rode many elevated and underground trains . My point of view changed. Over the next 2 years, I created a portfolio of works on paper to submit for graduate school admission. These works started in black and white and evolved into color, and I assuaged my homesickness for the Virginian Blue Ridge by intertwining their soft graceful curves with the pulsating city lights and linear midwest plains.
I always loved coloring and drawing from the time I was a child, so it is no wonder I continued that love into art school and beyond. Childhood drawings of trees, animals, houses, and people developed into more "realistic" versions of the same imagery as I honed my skills.