Artist Statement: Traversing

The "Traversing" cosmos entertains the fantastic, and aspires to satisfy the curiosity of “what could be”. I created it while filled with wanderlust and fashioned steampunk vessels to stand in as fearless adventurers. The surreal landscapes of "Traversing" possess floating slices of land covered in sails, airships dodging geographic formations, and horizons that never end.

In practice, my work falls under the pop-surrealism movement. Several of the geographical elements in this series are floating, or exist in a space where gravity is ambiguous, sparking an aura of whimsy. Cinta Vidal, Brian Mashburn, and Greg “Craola” Simkins have helped move my paintings into a modern perspective of surrealist landscapes. Each artist uses his or her subject matter to redefine space. Vidal changes her landscapes into individual planets, their gravity drawn to the center of the piece as 3D shapes. Mashburn uses mists to create distance and atmospheric planes. Simkins redefines still-life compositions to living, moving, snow-globe-like environments.

The steam-powered airships and vehicles in my paintings draw from the “steampunk” aesthetic—a product of the fictitious alternative history of 19th century Victorian England or the American “Wild West” era in which steam-powered technology maintains mainstream usage, and the speculative inventions in that fantasy world. Esao Andrews and his unearthly vessels have helped inform the composition of my own creations. Additionally, my ships often have a motif surrounding their construction, such as Gothic architecture in “Gallivanting Escape Through the Trees of Time”, or Chinese junk boats in “Crystals and Paper Sails”. Each contraption, however curious, nevertheless has its own function and personality suited to its locale. I used high flow acrylic paint for fine line work to flesh them out and give them more solidity in a dreamlike environment.

Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne, and Surrealist painter Salvador Dali originally sparked my interest in landscape painting, and Romanticism painters—Caspar David Friedrich, Johan Christian Dahl, and J.M.W. Turner—inspired me to instill each landscape with a sense of magic. Pieces like “Rose Fairy Pools” and “The Iridescent Pools of the Aurora” show plausible landscape formations, but the pink water in “Rose Fairy Pools” and the cloudy, rainbow mists in “Aurora” instead convey a chimerical nature. The landscapes’ full spectrum of vibrant, complementary, and iridescent color challenges the neutral, earth-toned palettes of natural landscapes.

Each painting in “Traversing” leaves room for a fanciful tale within its narrative.  I wanted to create a context for wonder and enchantment within a surrealist framework, so I placed a non-living subject in an unlikely setting. It allows the viewer to chart their own adventure, filling in the gaps between this world and one that is almost possible.

--December 2016