I work primarily in clay. Handbuilding is my preferred technique. Physically pounding out 25 pound bags of clay is energizing and presents endless opportunities. Was the clay dry and did the slab crack, wrinkle or pick up an odd texture from my ring or the wedging table? Maybe the clay was wet and sticky and when peeled off the canvas left a subtle, prickly texture on the surface. All great starting points for exploration.
I'm currently working on a color plate series. These are substantial, roughly circular, 2 feet plus in diameter works in clay. These abstract pieces are richly textured with multiple glaze combinations poured over them. The resultant images many times seem to reference landscapes, seascapes, deep space as well as whatever images the viewer brings to the table. In truth, to me, these works are non-objective explorations of color, form and surface.
Influences: I'm inspired by an eclectic mix of sources. Peter Voulkos large clay plates, Ruth Rippon's lush glazes, Peter Vandenberge's dry slip surfaces, Van Gogh's thick textured paintings, Jose Montoya's earthy, color palette, a dry lake bed, an oil slick wet road, the first drop of watercolor medium floating in a well of water and too many others to list.
I've always been assured of my path as an artist. I'm not sure how this happened but I don't have a memory of a time when I didn't know this is what I'd do. I didn't know any artists or didn't go to galleries when young. I just remember being 3 or 4 and drawing on the walls of my house- getting in trouble for this, Then, trying erasing the paint off the walls to make marks-- getting in more trouble for this. Using a twig to draw/stretch images onto the window screens---and getting in even more trouble for this. I finally figured out I could draw/scratch through the surface of the ground in my yard and make marks. I grew up in Lincoln, California and there is a huge clay deposit in the ground here. It's why the Gladding McBean Terra Cotta Factory has been here for about 140 years and is still going strong. The surface of the ground in my yard had a coating of clay that was perfect for making marks in the earth as a child. I am still making these marks in clay.
My Grandfather worked in clay. He was employed for many years and retired from the Gladding McBean Terra Cotta factory. He bought the house I grew up in with earnings from this job. I never knew him. He died before I was born. Many years later I own this same property and use the house as my studio. I feel the connection there: To him and to my own beginnings. I am carrying on a tradition.
Life is good.