Some of my greatest inspirations are found in the landscapes and seascapes of the New Jersey seashore where I grew up, but many are inspired by my travels as well. In recent years much of my focus has been centered in and around the town of Strathmere, a quaint coastal community located on a barrier island in southern New Jersey, where I live. This small picturesque seaside refuge and its surrounding shore communities inspire many of my paintings.
During the 1980’s, I embraced my passion for the sea and began a second career aboard large motor yachts, traveling the eastern seaboard. Yachting afforded me the opportunity to study the ocean and the many coastal towns that I visited along the way. My hobbies of sea kayaking and gardening both inspire my work as well.
While often not practical to paint “en plein air”, I make mental notes and takes an infinite amount of photographs to capture my experiences. While photographs often help me reminisce and recapture the moment, it is my own interpretation of the scene that prevails on the canvas. At some point all my reference material is abandoned, and it’s only my imagination that finishes the painting. I concentrate more on the color, light and shapes in a particular scene. In some regards, I’m illustrating a story.
My paintings are influenced by the American Impressionist painters of the late 19th and early 20th century. My works often showcase ordinary subject matter with an attention to brushwork, open composition and an emphasis on light. I prefer to leave something to the imagination. Some elements are more loosely painted, so the painting looks fresh every time you view it.
I choose the mediums of oil and pencil to execute these interpretative images of the land and sea. The subject dictates the medium. It’s often the first thing I determine when I first encounter something that inspires me. The pencil is a favorite of mine because I feel it reveals the bare bones of the artist’s talent.
The creative process, for me, is rather mechanical, yet the results are very emotional views of subjects and life. When I begin a new painting, I analyze each subject in my mind’s eye and from that experience I become inspired. I try not to over-intellectualize it. I trust my innate abilities and training to translate my vision into paint. At this point, I begin a sort of journey. The journey may take anywhere from a week to a year but the destination is an image on canvas. The execution of a painting is one of constant decisions, with every stroke resulting from a deliberate thought process. Each stroke of the brush has to include many elements: color, value, shape, texture and even personality; and, more importantly, each brush stroke must also relate to every square inch of the composition. Some areas of the paintings are often removed and repainted, resulting in what has become part of my signature technique.
Painting is a very personal, emotional journey for me. However, my journey ends when I sign the canvas. I then leave my paintings to the interpretation of others. Ultimately, it’s up to the viewer to make their own connection and create their own unique experience.