Tell us a little about yourself and when you began your painting career.
I grew up in Baltimore and went to a high school for the arts (like in the movie Fame.) I also studied painting at RISD and Cooper Union, where I had great teachers and was inspired to find my way as a painter. In 2001, I started selling my paintings and was soon able to live a simple life off of art sales.
Any words of wisdom from your early career that have stayed
Make paintings that breathe. You can make work to sell and still be
true to yourself. Use good frames when you can. Paint in a few standard sizes so those frames can be reused. Good paint is worth the investment. Good brushes probably aren’t. Paint all the time until you can’t help seeing as a painter.
What is it about an idea, grouping or scene that says, “Paint me!”?
Usually it’s a sense of light that I’m excited about. Or a color relationship. Or shapes that relate well to each other. Something visual has to be the starting point. From there, I can look for the story behind the scene.
What type of reference do you use: Sketches? Photos? Memory? Imagination?
Yes, all of them. I make watercolor sketches. I paint on location in oil a lot, working fast. I take a ton of photos hoping for the one in a thousand that I can work from at home. I paint color studies from those photos before committing to a larger painting. A quick sketch can have truth
to it, and a larger more finished painting can tell a more detailed story.
I love doing both.
Has there been an evolution in your work within the past five–10 years?
I’m more drawn to painting in the studio and less drawn to working on-site. I’ve been doing more paintings of my children and their friends as they explore and grow up as Mainers. I want to paint them as they figure out who they are, making paintings about the experience of childhood, as opposed to portraits of my kids. The coast of Maine is a perfect spot for them to grow into strong, independent people.
What time of day is most productive for painting?
In some ways, it’s whatever time I can get. This morning I woke up at 6 and was painting outside before 7. Other days it’s a few hours in the afternoon when the kids have a playdate, or in the evening after they’ve gone to bed. I’m lucky, I can get excited to paint anytime.
What does being an artist mean to you?
For me, being a painter and an artist is really an obsession with seeing.
I am perpetually excited by how our eyes see, how colors interact, how to use brush and pigment to re-create the world in front of me.
How does your role as a father influence your art?
It is paradoxical, but fatherhood benefits my art by getting me away from my easel. The kids get me out into the world—hiking, sailing, swimming, playing. They bring balance to my life. All of our adventures inform the paintings that follow, and inspire me to get back to work.
What do you love about painting or what drives you to paint?
Painting is like doing a jigsaw puzzle—the act itself is gratifying. Seeing people connect with my work in a meaningful way is also very motivating.
What do you hope to give people through your paintings?
I hope my paintings convey a sense of optimism, like an exclamation point on the beauty all around us. I want people to stop and look.
. . .
Favorite Maine restaurant?
I think a great combo is Rhumb Line in Camden,
with Blue Barren a Distillery next door. Get a gin and tonic
at Blue Barren, and follow it with some perfectly fresh
fish at Rhumb Line. They are both on the Lyman Morse
boatyard side of the harbor and have the best view of
town on a nice evening.