As a kid, I spent countless hours trying to lure wild creatures within arm’s length. I enticed geese with bread crumbs, befriended the occasional stray dog, and tempted dubious raccoons with half-eaten sandwiches. Animals were my favorite part of daily life, second only to scribbling their likenesses in my sketchbooks.
Being in the presence of animals today still brings me the sheer joy, solace, and a sense of connection I felt around them in my childhood. But as an adult, I now recognize that it’s in their specific company that accessing a deeper version of patience and stillness within myself becomes possible. Animals also make me laugh, which I think is just as important as being still…I credit watching hours of youtube videos of hilarious animal antics when I’m sick for shortening my colds.
This is what my work is about…how animals, both wild and domestic, can encourage us to slow down, be present, (sometimes laugh) and stop whirling around in our own heads. And how those moments of stillness are becoming more and more important in our increasingly fragmented, over-scheduled lives.
The sheer diversity of the animal kingdom also serves as a continuous reminder that we are are part of the magnificent whole. So my paintings celebrate the unique characteristics of each individual subject within that kingdom: the inquisitiveness of an otter, the grace of a deer, or the power of a bighorn.
And rather than painting animals from my own vantage point, I prefer to elevate my subjects by using a more heroic perspective, bringing the viewer up or down to the animal’s eye level. Each subject is also portrayed against a restrained background to encourage the viewer to connect and be present, echoing what animals can elicit from us in person.
My hope is that my work will help us look at these creatures as the sentient beings they are, and perhaps offer a momentary balm to the frenetic pace of modern life. I also hope that my paintings contribute to a larger conversation within our culture about promoting compassion for all animals.