I first contemplated these landscapes while hiking in the Delaware Water Gap, where I was awestruck by the silvery sheen of the sunlit hemlocks, the depth and transparency of the shadows, and the particular expressiveness of the mountain vistas that superimposed foregrounds over backgrounds with nothing in between. Some years later I revisited the location, only to find the ghostly remnants of the hemlocks, devastated by a parasitic insect introduced from Asia. Such rapid environmental change was made more striking by the realization that my son, born between the two visits, would never know this landscape as I had seen it. However, the mossy rocks were still there, the forest canopy still shaded the pebbled streams in intricate patterns, and the naked branches still shimmered in the springtime light. I put the brush to my canvas.
Though the Landscapes largely appropriate conventional painting language, it took me a while to develop the method and the vocabulary to convey what I saw in my mind’s eye. By then I had grown frustrated with the limitations of painting from direct observation. Nature’s moments that inspired me were brief, and recording in paint was slow. Moreover, the immediacy of a la prima painting did not allow for the expressive possibilities I craved.
To preserve the immediacy of the encounters and to re-interpret them later with the full range of a studio painter’s techniques, I turned to the camera. The camera documented nature’s facts—locations and sizes of tree trunks or boulders—while my memory held on to the feeling of being in that landscape and reconstructed this through the painting process. I focused on precise composition and drawing, attention to detail, and a structured sequence of underpainting, layering, glazing, and rich brushwork. My intent was for each image to contain a universe of textures that shimmer, sparkle, reflect, and absorb light and imbue each piece with visual experiences that are almost tactile.