I’ve always been fascinated with the intricate beauty of nature. As a child, while other kids were playing baseball, I was busy looking under rocks and chasing butterflies. Little did I know this passion would inspire many future paintings. I strive to create magical moments in nature where attributes such as composition, lighting, color and animal expression come together in perfect harmony. I want to show the viewer something lively and spectacular they wouldn’t normally get to see, from the vibrant colors of backlit autumn leaves to the warm breath of a howling wolf.
Although I didn’t have formal art education, it was a great advantage having an exceptionally talented artist and teacher as my father. Growing up, he taught me anything I wanted to learn, from drawing and painting to pottery or stained glass. Dabbling in many forms of art, I found my calling in realistic and detailed paintings of the natural world. I learned the concepts of composition, lighting and technique from my father and headed down my own artistic path beginning with portrait work eventually focusing on floral and wildlife art.
I get inspired and come up with ideas by taking in everything I see, exploring and photographing the outdoors or pouring through infinite images in books, magazines or on the web. I try to come up with ideas that convey a story or feeling but I’m more focused on the visual aspects. Often my pieces are more about abstract shapes such as a random cluster of sunlit snowy branches rather than the animal itself. Other times simply the piercing blue eyes of a tiger inspire me. Whatever the subject, I want to create a feast for the eyes.
I use Photoshop as a tool to develop and refine my concepts. I move around shapes, adjusting color, contrast, lighting and focus until I create an exciting composition pleasing to my eye. Using sharp edges, high contrast and vivid colors at the focal point and softening background areas can help add life and depth. Sunlight is often the subject; in fact there are many pieces I won’t paint if the lighting isn’t interesting to me. Everything looks more beautiful when the sun comes out.
After an initial sketch, I fill in the basic undertones and values airbrushing watercolors then build up from dark to light using colored-pencils and water-based pastels. Colored-pencils work great for fine details such as animal hair in shadows whereas the more opaque pastels can be used for building up brighter highlights. I also mix water with the water-based pastels to paint in sharp bright details such as whiskers. Colored-pencils and pastels have become an extension of my hand.
I work at home in a quiet setting listening to music or with the TV on in the background to keep me company. I paint at my computer desk where all of my photo references are displayed on my computer screen. Even though I have my pieces mapped out before I begin, they go through many stages and it’s gratifying watching what was once an idea develop into a life-like scene. Like many artists, I’m my own worst critic and my overall mood is brighter when I feel good about the painting I’m working on. I feel very fortunate to be able to get up in the morning and do something I love.
It’s comforting to know when I pass on from this world I’m leaving behind something positive, paintings for people to appreciate and be inspired by.
I grew up and still live in the Seattle area. I not only live in the midst of beautiful natural surroundings but amazing family and friends. My dad and I still get together often and talk shop, bouncing ideas off of each other