Where are you from originally and where do you currently reside?
I'm originally from Garden City, NY and currently live in Brooklyn, NY.
In the past year or so you spent some time in Finland. What were you doing there and how was the experience?
Finland was incredible. I was there for an artist residency at the Arteles Creative Center in Hämeenkyrö, which is three hours northwest of Helsinki. I went there to do a project on indigenous Finland birds, so I spend a lot of time outside in the fields, forest and lakes. It was during their midnight Sun in the Summer, so there was a surreal aspect to being able to be on the lake looking for swans in the light at midnight. The drawings that culminated from the residency also included patterning from Finnish textiles, so to get inspiration, I visited thrift shops, a glass factory and even a local auction. The nature of the countryside was so beautiful - wild flowers, birch trees, lupines, and of course, birds. At one point during the Summer, the road was filled with baby frogs, which was so magical.
When you were last on BSDA almost two years ago your paintings were full of bats and foxes. This time around there are birds and eggs. Would you say this work is perhaps more joyous?
Yes, definitely more joyous although part of the same narrative as those pieces. I'm still working with the same symbols and patterns of butterflies and shapes, but I've become interested in bodies of work that showcase animals in a specific period. This work was done with the idea of birds in Winter, so I wanted to use cooler colors and blues. As it gets colder in NY, I'm always surprised that there are birds who stick around instead of going South.
I know you have a lengthy, methodical process when it comes to painting which makes for stunning work. Can you take us through your process?
Sure. I start with thumbnails, which lead to a drawing. While I'm going this, I prepare the wood panel with layers of underpaint, which get sanded and then the background coat goes on, usually two layers, also sanded. The main figure is done in wax/oil, so I use a different background color (always red), so I transfer the main shape onto the panel and wind up with a painting that's just background and main shape. I then transfer the drawing using a white transfer paper, which leaves an outline that I can wash away or erase. The natural details get painted first in acrylic paint with a limited palette. Once this is complete, I start working on the main figure which gets built up in a process of layering. The darker areas and shadows have fewer layers and where the light hits or there's a white area I layer extensively. After the painting is complete, I treat it with a matte spray coat that helps project the surface and keep the main figure from scratching off, as well as help keep the piece archival.
In your artist statement you talk about how structure and categorization play a big role in your art practice. Can you explain that a bit for us?
Absolutely. I live in New York and although it's chaotic, everything is so organized. The streets are on a grid, traffic has a visual pattern and fruits and vegetables outside shops are neatly arranged. It's crazy here, but everything has a place and geometric feel to me. When I'm in nature, things seem intentional in a different way. Organic, without plan, although there's the same element of patterns. My work is about seeing nature through this urban lens. Re-imagining it in a planned way.