The subject matter of my work is the American state and national parks, and the memories and emotions these landscapes invoke in the viewer. I am particularly interested in the emotions of nostalgia and the sublime, of landscapes which elicit longing for bygone days and forgotten paths of one’s childhood, to towering conifers, deep and mysterious waters and forests, and the fear-tinted feeling of nightfall and moonlight. The aim of my artwork is to represent the landscape in such a light as to break your heart as you fall in love with a memory you had forgotten.
I was born and spent most of my childhood in Ohio. Rolling hills, trees and little streams where my playground—essentially the Shire of Tolkien’s beloved tales. Oftentimes my father (from whom I am certain I received most of my artistic inclination) would spontaneously announce a BBQ trip to a local state park. We would pack the ice-chest with pop and beer, gather up the grilling supplies, and be off to the park. This meant firewood gathering, swinging from vines, and trailing till dark. My first happy impressions of nature were formed in those days, and my love for the landscape has only deepened since. For me, a beautiful landscape is a kind of glimpse into an Eden lost, but not gone; just hidden to our subconsciousness which sometimes surfaces like a remembered dream.
I carry on that tradition my father started now in southern Illinois, where I reside with my wife and children. We often pack up on a whim and have a meal and hike at one of the many nearby state parks. I usually bring my camera, because it is in the landscape itself that I draw my inspiration for my art.
I am consciously working within the tradition of the American realist painters of the Hudson River School. For a Durand or Cole, for instance, the American landscape opened up as a portal to the spiritual world beyond. The representation of the Beautiful in nature was nothing short of recording the transcripts of the Almighty. I am self-taught, insofar as I did not attend art school. But I have learned from the masters, from studying the words and paintings of Durand, to watching hours and hours of painting tutorials from contemporary teachers such as Erik Koeppel, himself a Hudson River School enthusiast and well-established artist, Joseph McGurl, a master painter in the American contemporary luminist tradition, and Andrew Tischler, an accomplished New Zealand artist with an emphasis on process and technique.
In April 2022, just in time for Easter, I had an exhibit at the Little Egypt Arts Association, a local art center and gallery space. The exhibit was well-received by the public, with a front-page newspaper feature explaining who am I and what my art is about. I have also shown my art in the Art Guild of Paducah gallery.
The object of art is the glory of God and the experience of the beautiful, which is an attribute of God. If I glorify God’s uncreated beauty by communicating Nature’s created beauty, and if I am able to share that glorified beauty with others, so as to feed their souls with beauty, I will have attained my object as an artist. As Thomas Kinkade said, “The Human soul hungers for beauty–to experience beauty, and to create beauty. Our souls wither when they are beauty-deprived.”
“The human soul hungers for beauty–to experience beauty, and to create beauty. Our souls wither when they are beauty-deprived.”Thomas Kinkade
Beauty is, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, harmony, or proportion, perfection, and clarity. The Ideal Landscape is a composition, a color-coordination and an overall design which takes the raw forms of nature, i.e., earth, sky, plant, water, etc., and forms these into a pleasing Landscape Painting through the formal principles of Ideal Beauty, in which one may breathe and have a habitation for contemplation of Higher Things.
“The ‘lone and tranquil’ lakes embosomed in ancient forests…”A. B. Durand
Southern Illinois is a place of beauty. I have chosen as my subject matter the natural landscapes of the National Parks and surrounding areas of Southern Illinois because that is where I live, and I wanted to share the beauty of this place with those who live here as well. Just around the corner from a gas station or department store, your breath will be taken away by a scene of Lone and Tranquil Lakes Embosomed in Ancient Forests. That is Southern Illinois. That is what I want to share with you.