Monthly Archives: August 2013

inhale, exhale, repeat

People often ask me about my creative process. It begins with a deep breath. Oxygen rolls around in my nasal cavities and lungs. Without that, there is nothing else for me. The rest just kind of follows. All that activity, like looking, holding a brush, playing with a dog, planting a tree… My eyes breathe in the vistas and my hands exhale the paint. I’ve often described painting like breathing or dreaming. It is my body’s response to what I see and feel. Something in me wants to leave a record of what I’ve experienced or dreamed, and so I make pictures. Pictures that don’t always show what I saw, but my reaction to it. My dreams don’t always make sense. Either does the way I lay paint colors against each other… sometimes.


It’s always exciting to hang my new paintings in a public place. I remember years ago it was a scary thought to hang my pictures and then not be there to interpret them for the viewers. Nowadays, I prefer to let the images speak for themselves, though once in a while, I attach one of my “essays”, having been told that “people like to buy a story.” The reason I hesitate to say too much now is that people outside of the creative process often see things in my work that I didn’t see. There is more than one story. More than one right answer. Besides, I can’t be there with them after they leave home anyway.

Sometimes I don’t know what the story is. I just like the colors, the shapes, the brushstrokes, and I don’t know why. But then sometimes the meaning comes to me when I least expect it.

When I have a new painting, I often hang it on my bedroom wall. I look at it when I’m not thinking too hard. When I don’t have a brush in my hand. When I’m not trying to impose something onto it. At those times, the painting will tell me what it needs, or I’ll see something new, or in a new light.

There was a painting of white pines on the wall by my bed, and the more I looked at it, the more one particular branch looked like a fish. I couldn’t look at it without seeing a fish. So I painted the fish into the branch. That’s how the whole fish in trees adventure began.