I was born in Sydney Australia, but grew up primarily in New Jersey. I now live and work in Tiverton Rhode Island.
I came to Rhode Island to go to RISD where I received a BFA in painting.
My mother is a painter; a very good watercolorist. My father is a scientist. There have been artists and entrepreneurs in my family for centuries. On my mother’s side, they emigrated from France to England to carve stone for cathedrals in the 16th century. My great grandfather had a business selling his paintings to his class mates in grammar school, the other students thought his paints were magic because his work was better than their own. My Great Great Grandmother had a department store in England and would go to Paris to copy the latest fashions, which she drew, made the patterns, and created for her store. That was in the 1800s. My uncle was a graphic designer in England, he helped re-brand many popular products after WWII, and his brother was a very good painter. Everyone in our family has had some kind of leaning towards the visual arts. If I listed everyone and their skills, this would be a very long and maybe not so interesting list.
So I don’t know when art hit me. It hit me before I knew it was something. I always loved to draw, was entertained by it. I drew all the time as a kid, made up stories for myself with pictures. In fourth grade I remember doing other kid’s art projects for them because I couldn’t get enough just doing my own. When I was about 10, my mother let me paint with her, using her paints. It was very exciting. I don’t remember what we painted, but I loved the feeling of the brush and mixing color, watching the paint pour off the brush onto the paper. I still am crazy about that.
I had a sense pretty early that I was good at art, I mean I could tell that I thought of it differently from how other kids thought or didn’t think about it. I think I have always just wanted to be and known I am an artist. The biggest part to being an artist is seeing, and I have been looking and looking all my life. My father says as soon as I was born, my eyes were wide opened and looking around.
I finally feel as if I am hitting my stride and being the artist I hoped I would be. Which I feel is also a culmination of all the centuries of artists experiences in my family.
I had a very long period of working in collage/assemblage. It helped me figure out composition and editing. The biggest thing I learned from that was when you think it is done, take 2 things out. Most of the time, a picture could use at least 6 things taken out to make it look better. I had a big break through when I got more excited about the little parts I was painting for an assemblage, than the whole piece. So then I got back to painting. I liked interesting surfaces. I remember painting a Clementine that was half peeled, it was on a very crackly blue background, and I thought that I had started something for myself. The painting was only 6 inches square. I had a great feeling of the image pushing and pulling and being very interested in how my measured marks worked against the random background. I like to work in acrylics because I am a very fast painter, I don’t like waiting for oils to dry. The body of my work is in acrylics. I save watercolor for when I am on vacation. Painting landscapes is a great way to experience a place. I brought a little kit with me to France last year and had a great time making little paintings that took an hour or so to complete. Fun!
When I work with acrylics, I like to start with a very smooth surface. I work on wood; Birch plywood. Then I make the surface rough with layers of paint and crackling. I do lots of sanding and layering of color. Then I often grid out the surface and start to draw patterns. Painting the patterns helps me sort out what the picture will be. I rarely know what the final image will be when I start, but sometimes it is very clear.
work with a publisher in Vermont; they reproduce my work as posters and license my work to companies to put my art on to lots of products. Reproductions of my work have been sold in Trader Joes, Bed Bath and Beyond, Homegoods, Kohl’s, and starting this summer a new print will be in Target. It is very exciting to walk into a store and see my work, also exciting to see my work being sold around the world, funny to see descriptions written in other languages. I work really hard. I think the public may think that the life of an artist is all about lounging around waiting for a creative moment to happen. But it is my job. I go in every day to the studio, work long hours. As an artist I have had to figure out various paths of creativity that lead to making a living. I have had my decorative painting business for well over 25 years, I teach, I take commissions, I work on paintings specifically for reproduction. In my new studio space, I have taken on more of a gallery, so I have been thinking about how to make retail work in my busy schedule. Right now the studio is open to visitors Thursday-Sunday Noon-5pm. Being an artist is being a business. I have taught myself so many things about marketing, publishing, sales, and promotion. Patience is not just a virtue, but also an essential tool. Some aspects of my career have taken years and years to achieve.
When I was a junior at RISD, the painting department took us up to Cambridge to see the museums at Harvard. The first place we went into was the Fogg Museum. It was kind of a murky, grey day. Up on the second floor in a small gallery off the main area, was a painting by Van Gogh. It was his self-portrait after he cut off his ear. When I was about 11 or12 years old, my mother had cut out a photograph from a magazine that was a cropped version of this painting; you couldn’t see the bandaged ear. It hung on the bulletin board in the kitchen across from my seat at the table. Every day of my life, I looked at that painting. I really actually got sick of looking at it, it stopped being something to me. So here I am minding my own business, being somewhat cynical about looking at 19th century paintings and I come around the corner in to the dim gallery and there is this painting, almost glowing. It was so stunningly beautiful and so not a photograph and so real, that I started to cry. It made me understand why paintings should be seen. I thought I had learned everything I was going to learn from looking at the reproduction of that painting, until I finally saw it in person. I will never get over how he used a small curve of Alizarin Crimson to create the curve of his own lower lip.