I Don't Know

This group of oil pigment stick work on panel embodies several phrases used in conversation and social media posts. Working title of IDK means I don’t know and is the first phrase to consider. The second phrase is “It’s complicated” which can be used with IDK or as an answer to IDK. “It’s complicated” as a phrase in social media can mean ambiguous status or complexity without specifying details. IDK simply means I Don’t Know. There is a third phrase entangled in this process which is a song title “For what it’s worth” by Buffalo Springfield. Lyrics start the song with the words “There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear”.

All these concepts and experiences are present in these panels. Complexity is inherent with the process in that various colors dry at different times. I limit myself to two colors per work and invite interaction by sweeping one into the other. Each work is an experiment of opaque vs transparent pigments. Vertical lines of pure color divide rectangular sides. IDK is expressed by being bewildered a bit by the final result and honest experience of dry time. For what it’s worth means I’m unclear about what these panels are but am offering them up to be viewed.

Swimlane Flowchart

Swim lanes are places where humans floating in water compete for recognition of ability and speed. A Swimlane diagram shows who does what in a process. Swimlane Flowcharts add clarity on how to achieve a goal through a process.

My latest painting series titled Swimlane Flowchart is created with watercolor on paper. Transparency and light are attributes of paints activated by water. Three lanes are separated by narrow bands of vibrant color with wider lanes of reductive color tints.

Medley relay is a race of four people per team in separate lanes with as many teams as the pool will hold. Each swimmer uses a different swimming stoke for their leg of the race. There is a specific order for each stroke and after the first leg, swimmers hand off the lane to the next person on their team by touching the wall. It’s a very simple process yet complicated in that inefficiency by slower swimmers will affect outcomes. The process highlights accountability and heartbreak by pure physical effort.

The combination of these words and concept of clarity led me to visualize a geometric shape with lines that contain a human process of attempting to integrate various abilities and desires for success. This work is reductive by technique and palette. False starts result in loss, but nothing is gained unless you continually put yourself out into the world. To “dip a toe in the water” is to try something new and is a foundation of my art practice. 

Process Drawing

Process or flow diagrams model a sequence of activities in computer science. Process art is made by a sequence of activities that become the final work. Flow is part of my creative process in the series Process Drawing in which concept becomes object found through effort and materials. End results are often surprising and unfold over time.

My series Process Drawing is made with charcoal, beeswax and paper. Reducing materials and color to black charcoal, pigmented beeswax and white of paper to make this work brings a state of flow to me. Serenity, timelessness, and reduction of concern are all experienced during the process of making the work. Often, I have several disparate inspirations in concepts but not so much with these. Flow brings an intense focus on the single task of using minimal elements and allowing imagery to appear spontaneously.

Accepting imagery that I cannot control sounds like it should feel terrible, but the opposite is true. My mind becomes at peace and the images feel rewarding as they activate. Flow feels effortless yet effort is required to achieve creative flow. Activities that become the work require sequence in series for consistency even though you do not see the path. Computer gaming studied in laboratories for research on flow confirms that it is an activity which also produces what I am experiencing. I am intrigued that computer science which is an exact science and art practice which can be a messy exploration both create flow.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is a term used in geometry as well as a practice in art. A rhombus with all angles equal is also a square in geometry. When a square is turned to balance on a corner, the rhombus is a diamond shape. The diamond shape represents protection, harmony, and stability. Geometric shapes with straight lines and angles symbolize structure and order. A triangle due to the base is the strongest shape. The center intersection of 4 lines from the corners of a rhombus to create a core point becomes the center of unity and well-being.

In my series Problem Solving all these geometric shapes and symbols are present. A horizon with land mass is reflected in sky above and possibly water below. Holographic light effects shimmer depending on angle of viewer’s gaze. The spiritual meaning of this shape is to pay attention to inner focus for balance to stay true to their life task. So, the concience of a person is there to overcome ego or personality and to be able to act for the benefit of all people.

Herman Melville wrote a poem about the northern lights in May 1865 titled Aurora Borealis: Commemorative of the Dissolution of Armies at the Peace. Imagery such as “retreating and advancing” to describe the dance of the northern lights symbolizes soldiers on a field given the order to disband. Inuit legend tells us the northern lights are the souls of the dead. Northern lights are named after Aurora, Goddess of dawn and Boreas, God of the north wind and bringer of winter. When I first saw northern lights, I was awestruck by the display.

Ball of Confusion

Ball of Confusion is a series of oil pigment stick paintings on panel that is constructed of many layers of transparent and opaque paint as a circle contained within the square panel. When we see a circle inside a square it has many meanings as a metaphor. Traditionally the circle represents infinity and unity while the square is a symbol of the material or physical world which has many things that come in series of four such as earth, air, fire, and water. Attempting to square a circle in math can mean to attempt a seemingly impossible task such as world peace as a metaphor. Spiritually to square a circle can mean to see in all directions and to be completely free metaphorically. An ocean world is a type of terrestrial planet that includes water as mist, subsurface ocean, or fluid on its surface. Our planet Earth is an ocean world with the ability to originate and host many forms of life. Eternity and time are metaphors of both a physical and spiritual world explored in Ball of Confusion.

The title of this work comes from the 1970 hit song by The Temptations “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)”. The lyrics reference failed attempts for change regarding several characteristics of human nature: emotion, rebellion, chaos, hard times, work for what you want, and self-image.

This series is also inspired by “Solaris” a 1961 science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem. The novel is about a group of scientists in space attempting to understand an alien presence in the form of an ocean covering an unknown planet. They bombard the alien ocean with unauthorized x-rays which produces an unexpected result of androids replacing people known to the crew and yields no knowledge of the alien. “Solaris” was adapted by Steven Soderbergh in 2002 for a film by the same name starring George Clooney as the lead scientist. In his movie version the planet ocean reads human minds to create the androids. All efforts to understand planet Solaris are ultimately futile and the crew increasingly struggles with questions of motivation, beliefs, memories, and opportunity for second chances. The androids are metaphors of human characteristics as both physical and spiritual visitations that are traumatic to the crew.


The work in this series is transitional and brings a new way of engaging with landscape. It poses questions of external and internal landscape with the title “Bandwidth” since bandwidth can be both a measure of data transfer for communication as well as a figurative term to indicate overload of personal capacity for an individual.

Where do mistakes fit in an art practice? I was forced to answer that question when the work in my series “Bandwidth” was not dry and had to be moved and stored due to Covid-19 pandemic. Flexible mylar and oil pigment stick paint allowed me to roll up this work from my artist retreat and deliver to my studio, where it finally dried over several months of sheltering in place. When unrolled the paint was on both sides so I needed to figure out what this new manifestation of my concept had become. Do I embrace the flaw?

The flaw was fine as my process is to accept mistakes as inevitable. What did I do with my ruined paintings? I decided to slice the paintings into narrow panels and devise a way to hang from the wall. The installation pieces are activated by how much bandwidth you desire since personal capacity is very individual.

On Pause

The title of this series “On Pause” is what happens to a person when experience is interrupted to mark a moment. When you are not on pause its hard to see what matters. Perspective is important when making decisions. The word “perspective” has two meanings, one is a drawing skill about how to see objects in space. The second is a particular attitude toward regarding something such as limits for safety. There is a spiritual aspect to pausing for a moment of reflection or reverie.

I finished this series at an artist retreat just before the end of March 2020 when New York shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When I looked at the work again after several months of sheltering in place, the red horizon became a metaphor for a very changed global society. In these panels I see the horizon as a line of global health care workers striving to heal the world together as the first line of defense. I also see a figurative “point of no return” to the world as we knew it prior to March 2020.