A visual journal of 2018


I’m having a look back at this past year, by way of the paintings that were completed in 2018.  They always tell the unedited story.

The overarching flavor of the year has been dense with activity, complex interactions, unrest, tumultuous changes.  It began with this triptych, which was inspired by a conversation with a friend and gallery owner who was experiencing enormous personal challenges and changes.  I related to her feelings.   This painting is titled “Out of Chaos Comes Movement and Clarity”.   Looking back now, this continued to be the theme for the year.

Winter, spring and summer I was immersed in the studio, painting for a major solo exhibition in southern California.  Along the way, another solo show was planned in late summer, and three group shows were added.  Very little happened outside of the studio until late July.  My last two blog entries reference the works in the massive solo exhibitions that were installed in beautiful, expansive galleries.  These images I’m including below are of additional works.

The time in the studio was intense. After awhile, all my senses were translating into color and mark; softness/sharpness had color, anxiety/peace had color, taste and smell were wild with imagery, unceasing, through the days and nights. Communicating outside of a visual language was challenging.  I was reading Greek Mythology. This painting is titled “Leda and the Swan” and is 7 feet tall.

While most waking hours continued to be in the studio, I consciously slowed my movements down with great effort, even a deliberate effort to walk slowly.  I read ancient poetry, watched the sky, taking in some emotional and visual nourishment.  During this time, there were some smaller quieter works that came into being organically, gently.  This first piece, massive at 20′ wide, is called “Music of the Inner Universe”, titled for one of Kabir’s Ecstatic Poems.  It was part of a group show at the Kansas City Artists Coalition.

Below a smaller piece titled Rhapsody, which feels to me like gentle life forms wafting through evening’s atmosphere.

When the final show of the year was complete, I took a short but pure break, and then began to paint with abandon.  Amelia Earhart was in my dreams and on my mind, so these two paintings are titled in honor of this great adventurer.

Ameila’s Eastern Seaboard, 11′ wide

Amelia’s Western Seaboard, 12′ wide

I’ll resume studio time on the gulf side of Florida in two weeks.  See you then.



Solo Show at Blue Gallery in Kansas City

I’ve been working towards a solo show opening soon in Kansas City, at the beautiful Blue Gallery.  Kelly Kuhn, owner and director of the gallery, came out for a studio visit and selected from a massive amount of work I’d prepared for the show.  Her selections were brilliant, pulling from multiple palettes, sizes and expressions, to create an exciting body of work for the show.  A team of us prepared the work for display, building heavy duty frames, stretching, wrapping and delivering.



One of the larger pieces, shown below, is 12′ wide.  It’s hard to comprehend on a computer screen because of it’s scale and density.  Titled “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”.


This tall vertical is titled “Seventh Voyage”, and to me calls up wild seas and high adventure:


This painting “Inner Outer” has a sort of blackboard look, the paint having been mixed with powdered graphite, for a marvelous light drinking background, making the marks that live there seem animated.


I like to work freely, with boundless imagery and tone, so that the paintings develop in surprising ways.  This bright red piece is titled “Sing Sing’s Café”.  For me, this piece is crisp and fresh.  Those silvery white marks are slightly metallic, and have a sheen.


Here’s one more – a series of much smaller paintings to form a set, titled “Swan Series – Kabir”.  It was inspired by a poem from a 15th century poet named Kabir.  I was steeped in his writings this summer.  The poem is shown below the image, handwritten on paper.


If you’re in the area, please come by and see the show!  I’ll be there September 6th, from 6-9 p.m. for the opening, and will be talking about the work at 7 p.m.


Solo Show at Madison Gallery

In the studio I’ve been focused on a solo show at the Madison Gallery in southern California. They’ve recently moved to a beautiful new space in Solana Beach, just north of La Jolla, with soaring ceilings and a 77 foot  wall.  I’ve dreamt of this wall, like Alec Guinness in The Horse’s Mouth (1958)

The show is titled “Narratives”, as these works narrate, in a sense, the physicality, and experience of being human. The imagery is raw and initially unedited, accessing interior and exterior landscapes to begin, recorded with stick, brush, palms of hands, screwdrivers, pencil, crayon, spray paint, filled with an array of sensory and intellectual experiences. The first mark that emerges calls for the next mark, and on and on, and in that way, it’s a dialogue, no different from lived experience, which begins and ends in a mystery for us all.

The show features this 15′ long piece, titled Anthology:“Train Through Town”,  7 feet wide, will be included, and Highlands, 6′ wide:


During this time, I’ve been immersed in the ecstatic poetry of Kabir, a 15th century poet, and while my work is never a conceptual translation, it can become imbued with the impact from a literary journey.  These seven pieces are titled from snippets of Kabir’s poems, “The Rain Bird is Thirsty”, “The River Gives Itself to the Ocean”…

Here’s a series of smaller works, each 27″ wide, whose titles were inspired by a Kabir poem “Inside This Clay Jug”,


Inside this clay jug
there are canyons and
pine mountains,
and the maker of canyons
and pine mountains!

All seven oceans are inside,
and hundreds of millions of stars.

The acid that tests gold is here,
and the one who judges jewels.

And the music
that comes from the strings
that no one touches,
and the source of all water.

If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.




Kabir’s Lyrics

I recently picked up a book of Kabir’s Ecstatic Poems and became very involved with them and what they incited when I allowed them to percolate through my being.  This series was deeply influenced by these poems and are titled by snippets of his poems.  Kabir was a 15th century poet who transcended the constraints of religious dogma or another, awakening to wholeness and unity.  He often sang his poems.

This body of work will be included in a solo show at the Madison Gallery in Solana Beach, CA opening August 4, 2018.  Each painting is 54×40

The River Gives Itself to the Ocean

Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Space

The Woman Has Heard the Flute

The Rain Bird is Thirsty

Poet’s Song


The World is Breathing

Come Forward With the Light




Everything Feels New

Everything feels new this year.

Coming home from 3 weeks in Florida’s lush environment in January, and landing in the midwest, there was an extreme shift of color.   Moving from rich greens and blues and sunshine, to the subtle colors of the midwest – gray skies, bare trees, fields covered in snow, vast flocks of migrating snow geese – translated into felt space.   I could feel a deep shift nosing around internally.  Withdrawing from the rest of the world entirely, I planted myself in the studio, forms and marks emerged moving through the quiet aliveness of white or even unpainted, raw canvas.

These first two could work as a diptych.  They are each around 100″ wide.


The March winds came through with a vengeance.  It was tumultuous within and without.  This triptych is titled “Out of Chaos Comes Movement and Clarity”.

It seems apparent that spring is finally breaking through.


The winds have settled.  Below, titled Music of the Inner Universe.  It is 20′ wide.



Ode to a Studio Assistant

This short film is an ode to my departing studio assistant, Cassie Rhodes, who is moving away to start a new adventure.  She has been a powerhouse with an artist’s eye, her small and mighty frame preparing monumentally scaled canvases, wrangling them into a truck/trailer in high winds for deliveries, once to Taos, NM. She’s managed supplies, a complex inventory, assisting with photo shoots, studio prep and a thousand other unwieldy tasks, and also has cared for our land, managing native prairie, fields and meadows, all which has made it possible for me to devote myself to painting.  While the video clips look like she has staff, mostly she worked on her own power.
We’ve had a million triumphs and laughs together.  


Journalistic Abstraction

There’s a journalistic component to my abstract work, coming from the neighborhood of the subconscious.  If I try to cook up a visual idea of some event or place, the painting turns out to be a remote translation – stilted and awkward, lifeless.  If I am able to paint with a more open focus, working from a felt sense of color and mark in a conversant way, there’s a better chance of mining something more authentic, and the painting can carry something closer to the direct experience of my surroundings and recent history.  It’s an odd thing to try to describe from a process experience, but evident in the work itself.

Having recently returned from living on a quiet island off the Florida coast, some of the work that has emerged continues to reflect the memory of the seashore, the high winds and storms of January, the ocean and sky teeming with life.  There’s a sense of the experience of living and walking and swimming there, taking in the sea oats grasses, dunes, occasional turquoise waters and washed up lobster baskets.  Also the sea life shows up: tunneling hermit crabs, fish wriggling down a pelican’s long throat and being swallowed whole, starfish, clams, octopuses, blow fish, scallops, mullet, fish bones washing up on the shore.  A few painting details shown here:


Below, I’ve included a painting image from an earlier post along with a photo of the woods near the studio, to look at the the different imagery arising from experiencing the midwest in February:  north winds, silvery tree skeletons, golden sedge grasses and the hardy wildlife that survives the harsh winters.



Winter White

Returning from Florida’s gulf coast to the snowy midwest in late January, was a stunning shift in color and feel – from sky and sea blues, warm sands, moist air and sunshine, to silvery grays and dazzling whites, crisply cold days.

I didn’t feel I was really here, and wasn’t immediately moved to paint, but wanted to use the nourishment of the trip for painting, so I stayed in the studio for a week, from early morning until nearly bedtime.   The wind and snowstorms came and went, still not much happening inside except some canvas prep, photography, fooling around with things.


I papered most of the studio with yards of reclaimed cheap paper, and started freely drawing with crayons and pencils, trying to adopt the freedom of a child, not thinking about good or bad, just laying marks on paper.

I began reading the fine print in art books.  It was a little grim, and I was wondering if anything would break loose.

Finally something stirred, and a giant canvas came into being, I think it’s 17′ wide.

It was immediately recognizable as the landscape around me, the silvery gray trees, the beautiful golden sedge grasses sticking up out of the snow and the winds and clouds.

This clear air, white landscapes and gray skies began to be invigorating, having a crystalline feeling, sharp and clear.

Three more canvases arrived, all of them with the clean lines, mostly black and whites.  Here are some painting details:









I feel I’ve rejoined the environment.


My Beloved Mentor

Along the way, I was lucky to find an extraordinary painting mentor, Philomene Bennett.  She encouraged me to do what felt most authentic, allowing me to push past my own confines and delve into what felt most true and aligned.

Early on when attending her studio class, I was working on a large painting that was getting worse and worse the more I worked on it.  Something welled up in me and I slightly mixed magenta and pyrrole red oils, stuck a big brush in it and drug it across the middle of the buttery wet canvas in a sort of thrilling rebuttal.

Philomene said JANE, that magenta LINE!  Do you see that line???  It is extraordinary, can you SEE what just happened?

I said What what? You mean I can do THAT (that intuitive movement that wasn’t analytical, that was so juicy and real and impassioned)??

Right then, somehow, she had knocked a hole in the dam of restraint that was keeping me from developing a more truthful and intuitive way of working.  With that line, with that comment and discovery, my work began to become an extension of me, flowing from and beyond me, through a larger dimension.  That one day changed my life, entirely.  I began to paint with fervor; painting became akin to air and food and love.

Many years later, our teacher/student relationship has become a treasured friendship.  Recently I dragged an old, shot-full-of-holes Oliver combine into the field by the studio to create a painted sculpture, and invited Philomene to come over and work on it with me.  I had a bag full of spray paint and Philomene brought a bag full of Burger King breakfast biscuits, and she sat on the golf cart sipping coffee, offering thoughts and pointers.  As she would speak, I could feel what she was going to say, sort of like lifelong canoeing partners who knew how each others paddles were going to strike the water and which way they were steering the canoe.  In perfect unison, with me running the spray paint and her long jeweled finger pointing this way and that, occasionally an uh huh or OH, we worked on the combine nearly wordlessly, some kind of energetic communication flowing between us.  It was a heavenly experience.


Recently, I kidnapped Philomene and brought her to the studio to share some wine and look at art.  When she looks at art, she settles in quietly, taking some time to really wholly look, reading it carefully from side to side, up and down until she really sees it.  From this place, speaking philosophically, musing about distances and pull and feeling and place and memory and what’s in front and what’s the atmosphere, and from her few studied comments, her words acting like the strike of a match to a fuse, allow me to hear deeply and translate for my own, and with a few washes and marks, the paintings came into wholeness.  I captured some of it on a time lapse camera:

Of all the teachers in all of the world, I happened to run into Philomene.  I am deeply, profoundly grateful.



Getting a Few Things Off My Chest

I’ve been rattled by events of the world, and wasn’t able to let the angst go in order to work in the studio, so I invited the misery in and pinned up a canvas to get a few things off my chest.  It was very helpful, and while I softened some of the initial output with more marks and washes, the cacophony of words and imagery were pleasing.  In this video, the painting is nearly complete.


Painting Process – Autumn

It’s autumn, and the colors of the woods and prairie are coming into the studio.  The doors and windows are open, the air is sunny and fresh.

Paintings begin on the ground, where thinned acrylic paint is pushed into the canvas, using gloved hands, brushes, gravity and sometimes brooms.  This forms the atmosphere in which the painting lives.  Then the canvas is pinned to the wall, where more opaque mark making is laid down.  Sometimes it goes from floor to wall and back again, numerous times until it is completely resolved.



Easing Back Into the Studio

This past month has been heavy with sales, inventory and installations.

As usual after not painting for awhile, it takes some time to clear my head, relax, open up my senses and be able to work.  First, it’s time to sweep the large floor, open the doors, take in the landscape, make a pot of tea.  Maybe read a little something beautiful,  listen to some soul piercing music.  Untangle.



Photographing Art

Photography Day

I used to try to photograph my own work using a good camera and lighting, but the images were never as alive, the colors never balanced as a professional photograph, and the large scale of my work added to the complexities. How can I expect someone to select work off of the internet without a near perfect reproduction of the painting?

It takes this team: A steadfast and cheerful studio assistant and I measure, title and pin the canvases perfectly smoothly to the wall. Kansas City’s premier art photographer, E.G. Schempf, brings massive high quality equipment, sets up, shoots, color corrects. Another professional photographer joins us out of kindness, friendship and a greatly appreciated fine eye for color balance, and assists in every step.

I sometimes am working just ahead of the photograph, with a paint brush or spray can, tweaking the painting before it’s frozen (snapped) in time.

Immediately after photographing, each painting is color corrected. This involves commitments by each of us (four) individuals dedicated to accuracy in color, tint, contrast and clarity, to truthfully represent the work’s luminescence, intensity, saturation, depth, brilliance, muddiness, agitation, peacefulness.  Sometimes it takes over an hour to get a heavily pigmented painting to come into color balance.

All specs are then put into virtual and physical inventories.

The above 1 minute video covers a 7.5 hour shoot for 10 paintings.

Music: James Cotton with Joe Louis Walker & Charlie Haden playing Vineyard Blues.

Note: 2 of the last 3 paintings are vertical; we always shoot horizontally.



Waiting for Inspiration

Sometimes I’ll hit the studio full of ideas and energy and exhilarated to be able to paint, and nothing happens. I can pick up some tools and begin to work, but it’s obvious before the first brushstroke, that it isn’t going to work. Where does inspiration go? Sometimes you have to wait around for it.



July’s exceptionally hot days and nights, pushed me into a palette of cool, deep shade.   The quiet of the country and the heavy humidity, allows the beauty of the chorus of bug songs to come through.  I can feel that in this painting.