Figurative work is compelling and satisfying in a special way. While I’m not interested in photorealism, it’s important for me to have a sense of presence in the people I work with. This interest began when I was a child and fell in love with painting portraits. I recall reading, “The Story of Art”, by E. H. Gombrich, when I was ten years old. That changed my life, and I developed a keen interest in art history.
My readings in art history led to learning about the qualities in other times and cultures that expressed what being human means. In reading about classical Greek sculpture I admired the beauty of the male Kouros, and the female Kore. The Anthropos, or true human being, I found represented more than an ideal for me. By the time I was thirteen, I copied Byzantine figures because I was fascinated by the richness and simplicity of the human figure. Later on as an adult I would study Orthodox iconography with Vladislav Andrejev for fourteen years. Vladislav is the founder of the Prosopon School of Iconology, and a remarkable teacher.
Iconography taught me how to think symbolically, persevere, and use tools that I use today in my work. What I learn from and admire in the world of sacred imagery is that many of them share the same vocabulary for elements in them. Created light and uncreated light, line used as spiritual energy and spiritual intelligence, are some examples of this.
While I do not publicly advertise my icon work, I do take commissions for churches, monasteries, and private collectors. For me it is first and foremost a spiritual discipline. I employ the 13th century Moscow school technique incorporating materials that I find to be unique, such as 24 k gold leaf, egg tempera, hand made paint with pure pigments, and true gesso on a special board.
In my current figurative work there are often two or three views of one figure. It’s another way of expressing space/time awareness. Figures are often in abstract or open space for the same reason. I think Cubism was based on this, in part because art and physics were making similar discoveries at the same time. Medieval manuscripts routinely had different aspects of a story painted on one page.
Maps are universal and I realized I can make my own using whatever shapes and place names suit the painting.
The cave paintings in Chauvet, France have provided me with an additional source of inspiration, as do works and teachings by artists such as Velasquez, Francis Bacon, Vermeer, Cezanne, Matisse, Rothko, and Hockney.