In my paintings, I try to bring attention to common, everyday things that are right there in front of us but which we often overlook or take for granted. I started painting doing landscapes. On summer trips to Colorado and Wyoming, I began focusing on one element of the scenery: hay bales. They are everywhere, with no one paying them much attention, but I saw beauty in the colors, shapes and patterns of the bales themselves as they lay in the fields. The common, everyday hay bale became my main subject, with the landscape merely background. Although my subject matter is different now, I still take the same approach. I select the element in a scene that most captures my interest and make that the primary subject, painting it with the most precision.
For the last several years, I have been painting flower blossoms, with an emphasis on cactus blossoms. Why cactus blossoms? Because they are exquisite, they surround us, and with our busy lives, few of us take the time to appreciate their unique beauty. My backgrounds are usually dark which allows the blossoms to jump off the canvas. The cactus stems and arms are there primarily as an anchor and to add body to the piece. These background shapes are subdued and blurred in order to focus the eye on the central image. My wife, Laura, and I experienced our first desert blooms in the spring of 1981. We were struck by the variety, brilliant hues and complex patterns of these magnificent flowers. This marvel is what I attempt to portray in my paintings.
If one is going to paint cactus blossoms, this is the place to be. I’m fortunate to live a few blocks from the Wallace Gardens that has been a valuable source for my work. Some of the more spectacular cacti bloom at night, with the blossoms gone by mid-afternoon the next day, so one has to be diligent in order to be in the right place at the right time! In the spring, my mornings are consumed by searching for blossoms to photograph. In the afternoons, I paint.
My paintings often take a long time to complete. Some shapes are very complex, and I have found it pays to labor over the initial drawing until it is as accurate as possible. I paint realistically because I’m comfortable with that style, it fits my subject matter, and I like the results. By painting with thin layers, I’m able to achieve the desired levels of precision and realism. I usually go over a painting five or six times. In the initial stages, I concentrate on shape and value. Once I’m pleased with the structure of the work, I focus on color and the little details that make the painting come to life. The process can take weeks, and can be a bit frustrating at times, but it’s a wonderful feeling when I finally get the result I want and am able to share my art with others.
Growing up in a home filled with art, I discovered at an early age my innate talent for drawing and painting. Unfortunately, my early career peaked in about sixth grade when I discovered there were a lot of other fun things to experiencelike sports and girls. Throughout my teenage years, I continued to sketch and occasionally paint, but only as a hobby. After college, I went into banking in New York, where I met my beautiful wife, Laura. My career required extensive travel, and I gave up any thought of pursuing art in a meaningful way.
In 1980, we moved to Arizona to join the Arizona Bank, which had a fabulous art collection. Because the Bank’s Chairman was immersed in the art community, I found myself being drawn in as well. One day after attending a particularly long, tedious business meeting, I went to review my notes and found not a single written word but several pages of really good sketches. I thought, "Somebody is trying to tell me something!" At the urging of a colleague, I enrolled in the Jim Strong Art School and attended evening classes once a week. To this day, I continue to take classes whenever possible and always seem to learn some new way to enhance my work. Over the years, I’ve studied with various Arizona artists, including Jim Strong, Harold Nelson, Andrew Peters and Cindy Garrison.
A few years later, when we moved to North Scottsdale I converted a bedroom to a studio and began painting on a daily basis. I am inspired in part, by my cousin, Jeffrey Lunge, who began a second career as an artist after retirement. He was a very successful watercolorist with paintings on the cover of Arizona Highways Magazine, and in the collections of The Arizona Bank and The Biltmore Hotel. Contrary to Jeffrey, I paint in oil because of its workability, along with the rich hues it produces; and I paint realistically because it suits my personality.
Stimulated by the magnificence of Arizona’s deserts, mountains and canyons, I started out painting landscapes. Like many new students, my source was Arizona Highways, though I quickly discovered that good photographs don’t always make good paintings and began seeking out my own subject matter. My first cactus blossom was a small piece for a local art show. I fell in love with the beauty, variety and complexity of the blossoms and have been painting them ever since. I have participated in several local art league shows, but mainly I show privately in people’s homes and in my own studio.
Private & Corporate Collections