By 1987, I had reached a crisis point. Living on a shoestring, I got cheap cans of enamel and spray paint from the local paint store, and started dripping and spraying on the cardboard backs of paper tablets. “Why am I painting?” “What do I want to see?” I needed to find out what had been driving me through years of the study and practice of painting.
I had had my first art training during high school, studying everything from anatomy to silk screening to calligraphy. College courses at the University of California in Santa Barbara followed, and later on, many more courses at the local college and the College of Creative Studies at UCSB with excellent teachers like Richard Phipps and Tom Wudl. I had traveled to New York City and Europe to see art, and spent several years intensively studying and practicing painting, including the figure, still life, landscape, and abstraction. Finally, I had studied for a year with Brad Wright, who had been one of the last students of Philip Krasnow, a founding figure of the “L.A. School.”
So, retreated in my new studio in the mountains above Santa Barbara, I faced a crisis of vision and purpose. Wielding a palette knife, I began to create my first abstracted landscapes, unlocking my imagination through an experimental process. Thus, my personal aesthetic, based on subjectivity, began to unfold through experimentation. Gradually I developed techniques which allowed me to bypass a lot of conscious intent. This experimental approach to materials has been the starting point of all my paintings to this day.
My first large canvases were created by using a palette knife to score through thin dripped alkyd paint. In these “Erosion” paintings, I experimented with laying down various textures, and applying many layers of interference and metallic paint. Eventually, an essential structure emerged that allowed me to concentrate on experimenting with different color combinations.
Over the years, Middle Eastern art and the romantic poetry of the Sufis inspired many paintings. These have included “In the Garden” and “Threshold” series, which allude to doorways of mystery. In 2011 I further explored this interest in Middle Eastern art through the “Kilims” and “Magic Carpet” paintings. Initial experimentation involved creating woven patterns through dripping paint in stripes both vertically and horizontally. Textures with linoleum blocks and modeling paste were incorporated, and extensive use of paint sticks.
During the following year, I experimented with the possibilities of painting the light and color patterns I perceived subjectively, applying acrylic paint on collaged paper. These evolved into the “Hairat” paintings on canvas (a Persian word for a state of enchantment), which share some common elements with aboriginal Dreamtime paintings inspired through trance.
Changing media and format stimulates new ideas, creative ease, and flexibility. Over the years, creating small paintings on cardboard and paper has provided a creative respite from the larger work on canvas. The Works on Paper and Miniatures combine diverse media: ink, gouache, oil, alkyd, acrylic, spray paint, oil sticks, linoleum block printing, and collage.
My current body of work, the “Cosms,” incorporate techniques developed in earlier series, but are unique in that they are painted almost entirely flat on a table. The even surface of wood panels allows me to drip and pool paint in new color combinations. Exploration continues……….