I live in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, just north of the Montana border at the gateway to Grasslands National Park. Inspired by this region’s subtlety and remoteness, my paintings reflect on our ideas and perception of beauty. They look realistic but they’re not just about surface appearances. I decided a long time ago that if I could paint someone or something so it looked the most like itself, it might help us see not just the painting’s subject, but ourselves in it.
Throughout much of my artistic career I have considered the relationship of the self to the spirit. For most of 20 years, this imagery was representational, narrative, and figurative. Since the figures left my work in 2003, I have focused on symbols of the relationship between beauty and how we perceive it.
When preparing a new painting I begin by arranging and/or photographing the subject to create a composition that both appeals visually and suggests meaning. I often manipulate the digital image to achieve a desired range of colour and richness. I then work out the image in an elaborate contour drawing and mix colors in response to the photo. When I start painting, I aim to develop one area thoroughly before moving to another, so that the viewer might see clear relationships between the areas. The rest of the piece follows.
I’ve been painting and exhibiting for almost 35 years, and have more than two dozen solo or two-person exhibitions on my CV as well as over forty group shows, but the process and its results have never stopped being challenging. This uncertain, oily medium, applied with a stick that won’t completely let you direct it, and placed with one slightly transparent brushstroke next to or on top of another, becomes something that didn’t exist before. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at the world around them, to discover beauty in unusual places.