I retired from a 32-year career as an environmental biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009. For years, my creative side wanted more expression, which I ultimately found in collage and mixed media art after being introduced to it by long-time friend and master artist, Leonard Brooks, of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.
During the last decade of Leonard’s life, each year I visited him for ten days to two weeks. I usually spent the time reading, visiting with him, and helping out where I could. Some days I would play around with ink sketching.
One day during a visit, he called me over to a table where there were some papers and said, “Here, make a collage.” I looked at him dumfounded and said “I don’t know how.” He responded, “I’ll show you.” In typical Leonard style, he started picking up pieces of paper and stapling them onto a matt board. In about five minutes he’d made a beautiful, abstract collage. It was humbling, but he wasn’t going to let me not do it. So I picked up paper and started putting pieces together on the piece of matt board he gave me. My first attempts were pathetic. But he was incredibly supportive — as he was for many budding artists.
After I returned to the States, I went to “Papers”, a store that specialized in art paper, and I fell in love with paper. I began to see possibilities I hadn’t seen in the beginning — ways to use paper to capture an element or feeling of nature in a work of art. It was only natural then, that I should begin to incorporate dried plants and other materials into my work. I started having fun, and friends liked the work I was doing and even requested I make them pieces. I had always thought I would be a writer after I retired, but that thinking began to shift with my new love of paper.
Then on September 11, 2010, I was hit by a car. My legs were not broken, but suffered from soft tissue damaged, and I was 6 months in recovery. After that I couldn’t do art. I didn’t know why. For 3 long years I looked at my beautiful collection of paper and wondered if inspiration would ever come back to me. I even bought more paper. But I hated anything I tried to make. I kept hoping one day maybe I’d be able to do collage again.
During that time, I took some drawing and painting classes from a marvelous teacher, the Santa Fe artist Donelli DiMaria, feeling if I just kept my finger in the pot, so to speak, my inspiration and drive to create would come back. I enjoyed the classes and learned a lot, but I still couldn’t get back to collage. And drawing and paint didn’t do for me what collage had done before the accident.
In the fall of 2013, I finally called a friend, Richard Crowley, who now works with sports professionals and others out in California when they have mental blocks. He pointed out that I was suffering from a mild case of PTSD from the accident. I realized then that the accident had destroyed the illusion that I was in control of my life, and afterwards I was trying to control my art. And it didn’t work. One cannot control art. There is a saying “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open.” Art requires one to have an open mind to let inspiration come in. Mine was closed tight shut and the door locked after the accident.
So Richard worked with me for an hour on the phone, using the same techniques he uses with sports professionals. When I got off the phone, I went upstairs and made the first collage I’d made in more than 3 years, and had a great time doing it. My inspiration and my love of doing collage was back. I began selling my art the next spring, first in the Bear Barn Art Gallery in Edgewood, New Mexico, then at an exhibit in the Commissioner’s Gallery in Santa Fe. I knew then, I was on a path as a serious (and sometimes not so serious!) artist!
About my original art:
My works vary from abstract to semi-representational and most incorporate nature and/or musical themes. I use acrylic paint and enamel spray paints, Japanese Chiyogami, Washi, and other art papers, natural plant materials (which I collect and press myself–and sometimes paint to add color). Original art works are done on acid-free gesso or art board. I use several kinds of glue, depending on the effect I want and what papers I am using. Works are sealed, or sprayed with a finishing spray, and UV sprayed to help preserve paper colors.
About the prints: the papers
Platine Fiber Rag is kind of shiny; Edition Etching Rag is matte. It makes a difference in the appearance of the print. We used Platine Fiber Rag for all the metallic works because it shows the shiny better, and it also has better depth for those works with plant materials imbedded. The Edition Etching Rag worked really well for pieces with texture but not depth.
About the prints for sale here:
All prints are fine art quality, done on either Platine Fiber Rag or Edition Etching Rag paper, neither of which will deteriorate and discolor with age (unlike less expensive prints). Printing is done by Carr Imaging of Albuquerque, and prints have been proofed to ensure as close an image to the original as possible. The paper which reflected the original image most accurately was that selected for the print.
In a few cases where the original image could not be captured, usually due to use of reflective, metallic paint or paper (silver, gold, copper) in the original, the image was adjusted slightly to capture as much of the appearance of the original image as possible. Prints are not matted. Print sizes do not reflect the size of the original artwork, being a bit larger or smaller than the original, to make a nice print size.
NOTE: Print sizes listed all include a 1/4″ to a 1/2″ border. (E.g a print with an 8 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ image is listed as “91/2″ x 11 1/2″.” Prints ordered will be shipped out between two pieces of foam core board, packed in a box or heavy cardboard. The price is the same for all prints, and includes free shipping within the U.S.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.”
“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”
“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.”
“Our work emancipates itself in the world…and it escapes our control.”
“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.”
–Vincent Van Gogh
“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.”
“If I were called upon to define briefly the word ‘Art’, I should call it the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature, seen through the veil of the soul.”