As a means to better understand the use and effects of color in my figurative and landscape painting, I began, in the mid-seventies, to study the theories of Johannes Itten, Joseph Albers and others. My color exercises eventually evolved, through the 1980s, into a period of abstract illusionism and collage.
After a while I grew weary of constructing what seemed gimmicky, artificial paintings and decided to “return to the brush” and simplify my process. Today I am painting in a way that is nearly devoid of artifice with the intention of creating pieces that can be “felt’ rather than “studied” as contrived intellectual or technical achievements, in much the same way that one listens to music by say, the minimalist composer, Philip Glass -simply to look at them without the need to understand.
With my recent paintings of the “Dye Pond” series, I am revisiting a near-primal creative experience. As a boy growing up in the small town of Washougal, Washington in the late 1950s I would bicycle down to the Pendleton woolen mill situated on the banks of the Columbia River to throw stones into the dye waste-pond located behind one of the factory buildings. The various dyes would settle in the pond, stratifying by weight, and the plunk of pebbles would bring them to the surface in kaleidoscopic splashes and blending pools of color. Inevitably though, the vivid hues all mixed together and the little pond turned a muddy brown, but only for the day or so it took the dyes to settle once again. Then I would return for more fun. The dumping of toxic waste is intolerable in this somewhat more enlightened age, but for me, that dye pond is a distant but indelible childhood memory that informs my current work.