I have always been interested in films. In 1968, when I was twelve years old, I was blown away by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although I wasn’t familiar with many films at the time, having no access to video stores to rent and study films, I knew this one was unique. With an unconventional narrative and groundbreaking visuals it was primarily an emotional experience. This was the first time I realized films could be “art”. I was hooked.
In 1979, I earned a degree in Film Production from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and began making short films to satisfy my need to visually tell stories. As the medium of film began to evolve from video production to computer technology; I expanded and enhanced the creative process using digital tools. Although video offered a greater ease of capturing scenes, computer technology offered film and video producers much greater speed and versatility.
I have always imbued my videos with scenes of nature, and in 2008 I began to experiment with the adding and layering of digital effects. When I paused one of the scenes on my computer screen, I realized the still image had what I called at the time, “frozen video” potential. I was hooked, again. With my knowledge of effects, experimentation and some trial and error, I was able to transform a simple, bare branch or cloud formation into an image that more often than not had little resemblance to its origin. This new found art form has led to an almost obsessive search for an interesting subject in nature. I pity the person in my car when I spot a particularly inspirational view that must be videotaped, as we will certainly be late for our destinations. I will pull over on any street or highway to capture what soon will be forever gone. “I’m sorry officer, I’m shooting the sky” is becoming a common phrase of mine.
Exploding the frame by frame logic of videography, I meticulously combine digital effects to create artistic impressions that have an organic quality. Occasionally, I manipulate the image to look like something recognizable, but more often than not the image guides itself into the shape it’s destined to become. A painter’s interpretation of the process could be: nature is the canvas, effects become the brushes and the varying degrees of sunlight are the paint. Passionately devoted, I can be driven to work up to 50 hours on a single image and I am always looking forward to creating the next one. It’s exciting for me to think I will only be scratching the surface as to what is possible.
Colors in all their glory are the guiding influences in my art. Personally, the contrasts in nature of light-dark, large-small, smooth-rough, etc., are deeply moving and have significant influences in my placement of color. This intentional placement of certain colors creates a mood and emotion that is still a fascinating mystery to me. Each color provides a unique influence that causes a strong drive in me to refine each image. In my early works, red and orange hues were favored. Red is such a dominant color, causing other colors to bow to its influence. Blue will evoke peace in one image while conveying a sense of dread in another. I love that interchangeable quality, that force behind each color and the feelings my images will generate in you.
I am also attracted to gradients, the delicate way one color blends into another. A brightly hued sunset will demonstrate this beautifully as the soft variations of reds, yellows and magentas continually transform. It’s amazing how fast these changes take place if you really concentrate on the last five minutes of a sunset. These beautiful gradients are all around us if we are sensitive to them. The image “Oil On Asphalt” in the organics gallery is an example of my passion to see and record colors in the most obscure places. Although I have added some effects, the colors and gradients are a close facsimile to the original shot. While I spend a lot of time looking up at nature’s glory, I also have to look down to notice the beauty humans leave behind.
While color is a dominant force in most of my art, I am not opposed to a black and white interpretation. Yet, removing the color seems to strip an image of its power to create a mood that is unique to each observer. I am sure many photographers who present their work in black and white would debate me on this idea and can demonstrate the powerful way desaturating an image can influence different feelings. I invite you to discover the comparisons yourself and feel the various moods evoked by viewing an image in the black and white gallery and then viewing its colorful counterpart in the other galleries.
I am drawn to the abstract nature of things. When I first set my eyes on a scene or an object, I study its parts. The various ways it reflects light draws my eyes to its textures, shadows and colors. I don’t need a magnificent vista or spectacular sunset to see the subtle beauty that is all around us. To be sensitive to the interplay of light bouncing off a dirty street puddle is the origin of my passion. We are surrounded by beauty in all it’s insignificant and grand ways. As a boy, I was much more interested in the details of how something looked than in its purpose or utility. That notion has followed me into adulthood and particularly into my desire to create. Thankfully, that sensation is (so far) inexhaustible.
My taste in wall art is eclectic, but I prefer the art of Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali. Pollock’s work is filled with chaotic energy, Van Gogh impressions are full of vibrant color and Dali creates a surreal world I love to get lost in. If I had to choose one it would have to be Pollock. His art best represents the qualities I enjoy the most – pure expressions of color and form.
In film school we analyzed many underground or “experimental films” created by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and the like. These are rarely, if ever, seen by the average movie-goer and lean toward the avant-garde. Brakhage’s films are discordant, rhythmic light poems and are literally moving abstract paintings created in a number of deceptively simple and innovative ways. At times, he actually scratched, painted and glued tiny objects on each frame of film causing layers of barely discernible images while creating the effect of bursting color that hypnotizes and stimulates at the same time. Most of his films are short and silent but nonetheless create significant emotions and feelings. I admire his painstaking effort to produce unique collages of color and find these films equally powerful with a music background such as Pink Floyd, Bach or Phillip Glass.