No matter where you are in the world, whether in the grasslands or the rain forest, I think we all must learn about and appreciate our local surroundings as much as we can. I think that so many of us get anxious to venture out and explore so many other reaches of the earth whenever we can before we even truly connect with what nature is closest to us. I feel this series of artwork truly demonstrates my connection with the natural environment and also know that it is this connection to my surroundings which continues to develop strength in my artwork. The more time that I spend outside exploring and learning about this region, the more ideas for future pieces I start to develop, which may end up being fine art pieces or plein air pieces.
When I get an idea for a fine art piece I usually
sketch its composition out, just so I do not forget about it. When I decide
that I want to start creating a painting or drawing based on one of these
original ideas I start searching through my personal collection of reference
photos that I have gathered throughout the years. I usually work with three to
twenty or more at times for a painting/drawing. If I do not have any reference
photos at hand that will work, I will go out and search for them. Meaning I
will grab my camera and wait for the next opportunity to go out and get
pictures of what I feel I need a reference for. This can be anywhere from
plants, land forms and skies, to more pictures of the wildlife I intend to
paint as well. Sometimes I work directly from my sketches, using those as a
reference. Other times I try to get my hands on the real thing which may be
bringing in pieces of grass, feathers, etc. right into my studio if I am able
When it comes to plein air paintings and drawings, the attention to detail is shifted and more focus is geared towards capturing the forms and mood of the landscape at a particular time. I feel that artwork created in the plein air style captures a different sense of the landscape which can’t be replicated in studio. Plein air pieces in my opinion provides a more organic feel in a way that they are created directly on site while I am painting or drawing within the elements of nature. In the past these elements included painting in strong winds, sudden snowstorms, cold weather, and rain. Plein air paintings give a different sense of time and place which I also feel can’t be replicated in the studio. Sites for creating plein air work may include sites which are an hour or more hike from where I may park my vehicle. When hiking out to a site, it is usually not an easy hike since I am carrying a backpack filled with supplies, a French easel, camera supplies, and a canvas which at times can be up to 3 by 4 feet large. I find that painting in the plein air teaches me different techniques to paint which I bring back with me and can apply to my studio pieces.
It was my high school art teacher, Dr. Brenda Savella, who taught me how to paint with oils at the age of sixteen. I have been painting in acrylic just about as much as I do in oils for the past five years, starting to paint in acrylic at the age of twenty. Once a painting is born within my mind, my decision about the medium is already solidified. I choose acrylic or oil dependent upon the mood and effect that will best capture what I wish to achieve; both give a completely different feeling to a painting. I still keep in touch with Ms. Savella (as I call her) as she continues to be my strongest mentor in my art career.
All that being said I truly hope you enjoy the artwork in this series as much as I do and that you keep checking back as I will be adding to this series continuously in the future.