Tell us about where you are from and how you ended up here in the desert
I grew up in Los Angeles, near the airport. My mom still lives in the house where I was raised and I go back to visit often. I spent most of my life in this part of Los Angeles, attending college at Mount St. Mary's in the hills above the Getty where I studied fine art and education. I took some time to explore the world and volunteered with the US Peace Corps in Thailand (2006-2008); when I returned I also had a job traveling around California teaching Outdoor Education. One of the many places I worked throughout the year was Joshua Tree. I took kids backpacking through many parts of the park each fall and spring for a couple of years. One fall, my partner at the time and I decided to buy a house instead of paying rent. That was the winter of 2009 and I have made Joshua Tree my primary residence ever since.
How has the desert shifted or changed your work and or perspective?
I understand that extremes beyond my expectations are possible. This has pushed me to consider my own extremes - where do I push myself and my own work too hard or not enough. This is an internal compass I am learning to calibrate. The weather and the stillness here stir these kinds of considerations in me out here.
People are interested in your process; can you tell us a little bit about behind the scenes? From idea to finished product
I take a lot of photos at different sites that I am interested in exploring thematically before I ever know which of them I want to draw or include in a painting. I spend a lot of time on site and in a place or environment before I feel I can even begin to capture the feeling of it in a piece. I lived in Joshua tree for over 4 years before I ever started trying to make paintings of the places I love. Sometimes a piece takes 30 minutes and is completely momentary and evocative; others are more considered and deliberate. Some I sketch out with pencil first and then add the layers of watercolor; others are just a few brush strokes and a couple of simple layers. In recent years, I have been adding permanent marker and other line work to the works. I enjoy where this contrast is taking my own definitions.
What is something you love about your studio? What makes it feel right?
It's compact and everything that I save is thought out. I don't have much room so what I decide to make and keep inside must be extremely important to my life, practice, and process. I have a stack of journals and notebooks from the past two decades. Those will always have a place in my studio, and if I ever move, they'll be the first items packed and then unpacked in the new space. I love that it is a small trailer from the desert, just down the road actually. Most everything I used to remake the inside was salvaged or purchased locally. I feel like I saved it from slowly decaying into nothing; now it has a little room and porch and I can fill it with love and light and lots of art!
Who and/or what are you influences? Can be from another artist to just stepping outside
My first painting inspiration was Georgia O'Keeffe. I taught myself to paint by looking at flowers and practicing gradated colors using hers as examples. My mom took me to a Van Gogh retrospective at LACMA when I was twelve and I will never forget that. When I started working in Yosemite National Park in 2001, I came across the work of Chiura Obata who spent time there in 1927 on a "sketching tour." His landscapes are poetic renderings of places I hold dear. I started keeping sketchbooks every summer since 2001 when I spent my first summer working in Yosemite. I have now spent a portion of every summer for the past decade there. My work is heavily influenced by my time in the backcountry as a mountain guide, studying plants and geology, but probably one of my truest influences is the daily gift of a breathtaking
What keeps you going?
The ability to be surprised daily by the beauty of the simplest things.
Where can we see your work?
I have a new series of drawings and paintings up at the 29 Palms Inn now through December 1st 2018. After that, my website will host this new work and older collections as well. Also, come over and visit me in Joshua Tree at my studio. I am always happy to show and share what I am working on.