I am an illustrator by profession and a fine artist at heart. As such, my work reflects an eclectic mix of influences from the world of illustration and fine art. The primary thrust of my work over the last 30 years has been an ongoing interpretation of the Art Deco movement. Commissions and personal work have reinforced each other as clients and colleagues have come to see this as my ongoing style. After years illustrating in traditional media, I made the jump to digital and found great success for many more years, until I began to find that artistically rewarding illustration projects were becoming harder to find due to market changes. As a result, I added teaching illustration at the college level to my career and completed my Masters degree in Creative Non-Fiction. These two decisions have rewarded me with a new career in art/illustration in which my interests have shifted to more contemporary themes including the environment.
A pivotal moment occurred when I was asked to design and teach an advanced concept illustration course at Macomb Community College in 2010. In challenging students to fully “conceptualize” ideas rather think in literal terms, I found that their energy and creativity stimulated my own interest in pushing my own visual style. The result can be seen in my posted work since 2012. The work is diverse; portraits, plants, cars, and landscapes, all interpreted within the context of a visually simplified style of personal shapes and forms. The significant shift is toward using the subject as a vehicle for expression rather than a vehicle for getting illustration commissions (although I my art still does generate commissions). I am gradually moving toward creating a body of work focused on personal expression that still retains the influences that dominated my illustration.
My micro-focused Botanical Graphics from 2015 are the clearest expression of this shift at that time. On a practical level, these graphics were designed as illustrations for seed packets, but are also intended as 12 unique explorations in compositional symmetry and asymmetry. In each intimate view a flower is reduced to a more geometrical form while still retaining the nuances and unique variations in shape and form particular to the species. The original inspiration was a one hour photo shoot of an urban roadside meadow which had gone un-mowed since early spring. My photos revealed an elegant micro-universe of otherwise ordinary species like Queen Anne’s Lace and clover, all in bloom against an exquisite architecture of soft greens and browns. Artist influences for this work range from Charles Sheeler and Georgia O'keeffe to contemporary illustrators like Orlando Arocena and Stanley Chow. This series is also a direct outgrowth of my Master's thesis from 2011 in which I explore the impact of non-native invasive species on native plant populations.
More recently my macro-focused “Canyonlands” series is a meditation on expansive western landscapes. Each illustration is based on a combination of memory and reference images I have taken or found. I purposefully choose not to build these visions from any specific photo. Rather, I seek to recall the sensation of being in that moment. The play of light, the sense of space, the emotion of loneliness, solitude and joy are part of what I am searching for as an artist. The fine art of legendary Disney animator Eyvind Earl has been a recent focus in this series as well as the paintings of Ed Mell. The stylized simplicity of Earl's interpretations of the California coastal hills inspired me experiment in my own style and approach with more exaggeration of shapes and a more intuitive use of color, while Ed Mell's geometric interpretations of Monument Valley have been a revelation.
I would say that I am “coming full circle” in my work. When I graduated with a degree in fine arts in 1980, The Group of Seven, Andrew Wyeth, Clyfford Still, and Richard Diebenkorn were great influences on my work. In mid career I found inspiration in the work of Lyonel Feininger, Tamara de Lempicka, and Georgia O’keeffe as well as the Art Deco movement. Today, my interest is turning toward a more abstract/symbolic or “pure” exploration of form and color. Consequently artists such as Charles Burchfield, Arthur Dove, and Ed Mell have become greater influences. I doubt that the representation of objects and people will ever fully disappear from my work, but I am charting a course toward a more abstract form of my work. Most of my work is digital and therefor, I rely on high quality prints to “show”my art and illustration outside the digital space. I currently do not bother to draw a line between illustration and fine art since I find that these labels are losing their meaning as all art merges into image making.