Making portraits is a recent expansion of my work, starting in 2008. I found that by modulating light's brightness, direction, color and contrast in the studio I could paint something of a person's spirit and personality onto their form and features. Combining designed light with my backdrops and sets creates infinite possibilities for adding dimensions of personal energy, aspirations and story.
This group of portraits features the power of eyes. A gaze can establish an instant connection. Eye contact opens you up to vulnerability, a sharing of something about you. This window to some energy inside is what gives these portraits their buoyancy. I feel some privelege to be let in.
My intent in these portraits is to pay tribute to the the classic beauty of human form as represented by the statues and myths found in antiquity. Art forms that portrayed idealized human qualities such as strength, beauty, power, masculinity, femininity, symmetry, proportion and grace were common themes in Greek and Roman culture.
My inspiration for these Images is from illustrator Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful children's book, " The Mysteries of Harris Burdick". In it there are 14 imaginative drawings that invite the viewer to make up their own story to go with each evocative illustration. Similarly, these photographs are unfinished, they ask you to create the story behind them.
I enjoy photographing statues because they are studies in form and grace. I am truly amazed by artisans who are able to coax subtle facial expressions, and the softness and delicacy of fabric, out of hard stone.
Trees are works of art created by years of exposure to the elements. Branching structures are shaped by proximity to neighboring trees, and by local conditions of soil, sun and wind. Their wonderful forms and irresistible textures offer infinite possibilities upon which light can play. Like people, trees have form, grace and personality. Snow, haze, rain and shade provide makeup and wardrobe that change their daily looks.
This series of photographs shows off the beauty of humble prairie plants in the tradition of the Dutch master painters. Their contribution to painting was to use the rich qualities of light to grace their ordinary subjects. My intent is to illuminate the simple, exquisite beauty of these often unseen or under-appreciated Wisconsin native species. All the prairie plants were photographed in my Sauk County studio and were picked in the surrounding yard.
These little compositions, with their nurturing sense of enclosure, sacred light, and objects crafted with love, represent more of a desired state of mind than a picture "of" something. They're visual meditations on stillness, imagination, centeredness . . . . a call to hear an internal voice above the clatter outside. They're photographs of silence.
These scenes captured my attention because I found they had a poetry about them. The photographs are more metaphor than truth. They offer visual pleasure, but also seem fertile with emotions, memories, dreams or associations that appear universal. In a way they're undeveloped, they need your involvement to complete their meaning.
These photographs were taken in the Wisconsin State Capitol building over a period of 18 months . The 20" x 24" prints were exhibited in the office of the Lt. Governor. The project was conceived to celebrate the elegant Beaux Arts architecture of the building and its extensive artisianship of wrought iron work, paintings, frescos, masonry and woodcarving. I used B&W medium format film for the project since the need for my "hands on" processing of the film, in some small way, pays tribute to the artists and craftspeople whose hands created the rich beauty of the stately building.