I am inspired by other living creatures and the many varying ways in which they live and perceive the world. I choose to paint subjects to which I have a deep emotional response, whether that response is to feel happy or sad, frightened or comforted. I always sympathize with the underdog, the downtrodden, and the undervalued. I am driven to learn about different cultures and ways of life and my work reflects this. I intend my paintings to help viewers understand and accept people and creatures who seem different from themselves.
I do not want viewers to have to read my artist’s statement in order to understand what my paintings are about – I want my work to speak to them directly. To this end I strive to bring my subjects to life in such a way that they are immediately comprehensible and the viewer has an opportunity to find some common ground with them.
I paint in oil paint because of the rich complexity of oil paints and the variety of techniques oils facilitate. These allow me to represent a recognizable natural world, while increasing the interest and emotional impact of the painting with brush strokes, textures and glazes. My hope is that my work can communicate with as wide a range of people as possible, reaching across differences in culture, age, personality and knowledge.
If you would like to hear more about me and my painting process please view the video, at the bottom of the page, of a talk I gave in 2011, at the Gwangju International Center about my paintings, history and oil paintings techniques.
I was born in Saint Louis, but I grew up in Durham, North Carolina, with occasional visits to grandparents in England. Ever since I was very young I have wanted to be a children's book illustrator. Before I knew how to read or write I began by stapling pieces of paper together to make my own books and drawing on the pages. I dictated my stories to my mother who dutifully filled in the words for me. I have always loved animals, and my very first books were about beloved family pets – dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and rats. As I grew older I became interested in more unusual animals as well, especially the ones people tend not to like; hyenas, wombats, platypuses, snakes... Later on as a teenager, I became close friends with children from several different countries. I realized than that there were also people who were treated with prejudice and ignorance.
I moved to Philadelphia to attend Moore College of Art & Design. At Moore I got to travel abroad to Mexico City for a drawing class. In my junior year at Moore won a Travel Fellowship to get funding for a trip to India. I spent a summer working with street children and orphans and interning for the design department of a publishing company. I fell in love with India and with teaching and traveling.
These days I feel compelled to learn about different cultures and ways of life, to that end I am currently living in Gwangju, South Korea. I paint whenever possible, and in my work I attempt to help viewers understand and accept those people and creatures who are different from themselves. Whether its in a children's book or a fine art painting for a gallery.