I am a works-on-paper artist -- meaning I work on, and with, paper, using ink, watercolors and sometimes incorporating string, ribbon, and other mixed-media materials. I almost always work in series, producing a number of variations of whatever idea it is that I'm exploring at the time. As one piece evolves, the next one -- or three, or ten if I'm lucky -- starts to take shape in my mind's eye.
One long-term project now includes dozens of non-representational ink drawings, done on full sheets of Arches 140-pound hot-press watercolor paper, using fine-line Staedtler permanent ink markers. I use a limited number of marks -- scribbles, dots, lines of varying lengths, tiny circles -- which have come to feel like a sort of personal language. The markers have a nicely-tapered nib and generous ink flow; the hot-press paper is heavy, strong and very smooth. The combination allows me enormous control over the width and density of line.
I also frequently make collages, in sizes ranging from 5 x 7 to 45 x 30 inches, often using bits of drawings and paintings that didn't quite work out the way I wanted them to. I love the tiny shadows that emerge from the layering of the paper. I select many edge pieces because I am obsessed with the gorgeous deckle at each end of the sheets of the Arches paper. The watercolor bits are almost always on cold-pressed paper, which has a surface texture that encourages the paint to pool and flow, forming beautiful variations in the depth of pigment as it dries. Composing the collages feels like play, intuitive and spontaneous. Each piece works itself out out step by step. One piece leads to the next -- compliment or counterpoint.
One of my favorite series -- "Paperworks" (2011) -- incorporates book-like forms that were inspired in part by several hand-made book-making classes I took with the wonderful teacher and book artist Maria Pisano. Although these works aren't actual books, they were constructed by using many of the techniques I learned in these classes.
Older work includes series of representational drawings that use the same marks -- stippling, scribbling, lines, circles -- but with a recognizable, rather than a suggestive, outcome. Viewers, however, respond to my abstract work very differently than they do to the pieces with "subject matter." A casual glance might say "pussywillows" or "ribbon" or "horse." My hope is that, with a closer look, these pieces intrigue the eye enough to invite contemplation of the exquisite ordinary things in our daily lives. Geometric tiles merging into and separating from the intricate topography of a black and white dog. A stripped-down negative space that eddies and flows around the sinuous outline of a cat. The angular form of a proud picket fence.
I work towards my compositions via line, shape, negative space, and the balancing of quiet versus active areas. I want the eye to have spaces in which to rest, to breathe, until it has a chance to feel the pull of the area that wants to be examined next. I am drawn to the tension between order and disorder, energy and entropy, control and disarray. Grids draw my hands and mind like moth to flame. My work is finished when a piece delights my eye each time I first catch sight of it: that persistent little "ahh!" No matter how clearly my mind's eye has seen it, the final product is always a surprise. Which is just a reminder -- as if I needed one -- of the yawning abyss between the world inside my head and the world that surrounds us all.