My goal as an artist is to share the things that excite or intrigue me. Art is an attempt to give back, to repay in part the many hours of wonder that others have likewise provided for me. Through the years, I have tried to achieve this sharing process with as much passion as possible, and with a minimum of pretense.
I love all facets and permutations of art, but I have a soft spot for genre illustration, and especially science fiction illustration. What other medium allows total creative control over the look of the image, from machines to living things to costumes to environments, yet still permits some degree of realism?
With each piece I strive to suggest story elements or drama without actually telling a story, yet there must be more too. To achieve visual cohesion I compare the image to music. Repeated shapes or repeated linear gestures, each with slight variations, can transform an image into a visual fugue, or the visual equivalent of musical counterpoint. I stumbled upon this baroque visual approach while enjoying the works of American watercolorist Charles Burchfield.
More often than not I use acrylic paint on prepared hardboard. I do not use an airbrush, or seldom do, though it may at first appear so. I often use a dry brush technique that is as fast as airbrushing and is much livelier, a technique far easier than you might think. Lately I have been using Second Life® as a quick 3D sketch tool for design ideas, building imaginary structures and exploring lighting effects. This is not a replacement for observation of the real world, but is ideal for exploring objects that do not yet exist in the real world.
My favorite genre illustrators are Richard Powers, Paul Lehr, John Schoenherr, and many others – and of course the grandfathers of modern illustration, N. C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle. These are artists who never needed to show us every detail, but rather suggested, and let our own imaginations fill in the details. Having said that, i realize there is a great deal of detail in my own work. Aside from satisfying the expectations of the modern illustration market, the detail I rely on is inspired by the Visionary school of art mostly originating in California in the late 1960’s counter-culture. These highly detailed Visionary pieces by artists such as Gage Taylor seem to scintillate and bewilder. I’ve often tried to achieve this same high density detail while still maintaining an effective composition, not an easy balancing act. I’m also fond of the surrealist works of Yves Tanguy and Roberto Matta. None of these influences is readily visible in my work, but they are present nevertheless.
I am native of Nashville, Tennessee, who fell in love with illustration early in life. I started drawing at age three (I’m told) because there were simply not enough pictures of dinosaurs at the local library to satisfy me. From elementary school onward I was encouraged by my teachers to pursue art.
However by the time I became a fine arts major in college I was discouraged from illustration as a career, “illustration” being a disparaging term in that academic environment. Nevertheless I was fascinated by the idea of suggesting stories through images, much in the same way program music may suggest a series of events. My ongoing love of science, music, fantasy, and genre fiction provided a melding of images with subject matter so that illustration became the natural outlet for my creativity.
By 1980 I had worked my way into the science fiction subculture. Well, actually I was pushed into it, and what a surprise it was! My first exhibit was a near sell out and provided the contacts for my first published work in Future Life Magazine. I have since provided many illustrations for publications in the US and in Europe. I have illustrated the covers of books by such authors as Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Norman Spinrad, and others. My clients have included the Doubleday Publishing Group, Grolier Science Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, TSR, Inc., and NASA, among others.
Still residing in Nashville, I currently am involved in working with other artists collaboratively and I find this creatively stimulating. I’m also attempting a comeback of sorts after a long and grueling hiatus from illustration. This blog is intended as my public journal of that return as well as showcase of my art.