There is the making of the art and after that, the meaning of it. Technical mastery is only the means of bringing a painting to life. In 1993 when I began to seriously paint, many of my early paintings were concerned with verisimilitude: rendering a subject just as my eye saw it, a habit hard to break after years of working as a mechanical draughtsman. I viewed these paintings as mere exercises. Then in 2006 something radically changed: a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, my future husband was in failing health and my architectural practice was in high gear, demanding most of my time. In the rare hours I could find to paint I had to give up my technical concerns and translate my emotions as swiftly as possible on to the canvas.
When I made the portrait of Fred Haines, the friend with cancer, I saw instantly that I had finally pared it down to the bare essentials. I didn’t worry myself over making an accurate likeness of him but instead concentrated my efforts on translating his essence to the canvas, working to evoke the soul of the man I knew as Fred. After this “breakthrough” painting of 2006, “Mermaid Reve” happened so quickly it felt like automatic writing, as the Dadaists would call it. Where I had labored over a painting for days or weeks in the past, this one was done in a day. “The Dwelling” was the next painting that seemed to paint itself, with very little forethought or intentionality, remaining gestural in form and spatially ambiguous.
In one of the most tumultuous years of my life, I learned to surrender to ‘the act of painting’, to stand aside my obsession for execution or narrative content, and let a painting happen… to allow the accidental, to improvise, and to reduce the subject down to the bare essentials. Like visual music making, I look for consonances and dissonances, structure and rhythm, coloration and tone, just as does the composer or musician playing an instrument. I am gratified to discover that since 2006, my painting has progressed beyond the exhuming of personal ghosts and taken on larger themes than just the autobiographical.
Early in 2012, my husband and I sold our home in Los Angeles and moved to beautiful Aptos, California near Santa Cruz. The region is familiar to me, as I spent many summers on the central coast when I was growing up. Ensconced in our “cabin in the woods” that I remodeled to my liking, the opportunity has finally come for me to devote myself more fully to painting. I hope you will stay tuned, as I believe my best work is yet to come.
1974: Bachelor of Arts, “Anthropological and Sociological Studies in Religion”
University of California, Berkeley
1984: Master of Architecture,
Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning
University of California, Los Angeles