Monday, August 1, 2011


In a five or six-year old clearcut: Wild blackberries over a fallen log near sunset.

In my past paintings, I would add little characters and/or cartoon-like elements:

I wanted to have the feeling of a narrative in the paintings - almost like they were a cell taken out of an animated film.

More recently, I've been using little characters to try to embody some kind of "spirit" of the subject I'm painting, if that makes any sense:

Last week I was sitting out in the bush looking at the trees and trying to figure out, "What is the 'spirit' in this scene? How could I personify it with some weird little creatures? Or how could I simplify it down into less brush strokes, to show the energy of the overall scene?"

But I'm coming to realize that there is no need to find anything in a subject, or to add any more than what I am seeing. Every glimpse of sky, every angle of a branch is just what it is, nothing more. "Flow of energy" and "spirit" are constructions of my own mind, and it's unnecessary and false to imagine these things. There is enough 'spirit' to discover in the way the trees stand, or the curve of the stem of a leaf. I don't need to create imaginary characters when there is already so much life and personality and creativity in representing each plant, and how light reveals the world in the moment I'm observing it.

In other words, I'm feeling really good about not making shit up and simply painting the goddamned leaves.


  1. I believe that an orderly universe, one indifferent to human preoccupations, in which everything has an explanation even if we still have a long way to go before we find it, is a more beautiful, more wonderful place than a universe tricked out with capricious ad hoc magic.
    -- Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow