Photographing one of many raccoons at the Zoo Ecomuseum in Montreal, Quebec that would serve as the reference for “ The Alchemist. ” 

Photographing one of many raccoons at the Zoo Ecomuseum in Montreal, Quebec that would serve as the reference for “The Alchemist.” 

Every human being has the same innate creative abilities, which come through differently for each of us depending on our Soul Purpose. 

 

WHAT INSPIRES ME  

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Though our natural world has never been more imperiled than it is today, we are at a moment in human development that has the potential to usher in a renewed reverence to our union with all living things. We are not separate from nature in all of its forms—no more than we are separate from each other. We are living in a time of enormous change, a rushing surge of awareness, stewardship and advocacy for our living planet, and at the same time, a tidal wave of fear, insecurity and uncertainty. 

In 2004 I moved to Vermont and formed an instant bond, not only with the inspiring landscape and abundant wildlife, but also with the culture of interconnectedness with the natural world that seems woven into the fabric of everyday life here. My artistic focus has naturally shifted from figurative work to one of my greatest loves—animals—as a language to translate the spirit into the physical world. For me, animals have always provided that grounding connection to what is sacred—a serenity that pulls us out of our everyday chaos and focuses our attention on simply being.

Indigenous cultures all over the world have long held the animal kingdom in the highest regard, creating mythologies to help translate their powerful messages. Their stories can help us navigate our own inner landscapes, or speak to larger external challenges that can feel insurmountable. The idea of working from a place of connectedness—both in the spiritual and physical realms—is one I believe begins to heal and nurture our spirits as individuals, and simultaneously the challenges we face as one human family.

 

my process 

I'm systematically replacing all of my oil paint with Gamblin Artist Oils.  My current palette consists of: Titanium White, Payne's Grey, Van Dyke Brown, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue, French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue. I'll sometimes add in a specialty color like Cobalt Teal or Cadmium Chartreuse if a painting calls for it. For medium, I use a mix of Linseed or Poppy Oil and Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits. 

My new favorite brushes of all time are Winsor & Newton Monarch flats and brights. This is a synthetic brush which mimics natural mongoose hair. I do not use materials that have been sourced from the needless trapping, hunting or breeding of animals for this purpose. There is no need for animals to suffer for art or commerce in any form. I invite you to use your power as an informed consumer and compassionate individual to eliminate the market for natural hair in the art and fashion world! (I also use crappy $4 brushes from my local art store. Whatever works!) 

My process actually begins with finding my photo reference, which I prefer to photograph myself. This takes me to animal sanctuaries, nature centers, sometimes zoos (ones that treat their animals really well), and simply into the outdoors. I pour through the hundreds of images I've captured that day, then narrow my choices down to just a few—the ones that really capture emotion and expression best. If I need to, I'll use Photoshop to change backgrounds, combine images, color-correct, and really solidify my vision for the completed painting.  That said, intuition plays a huge part in the final piece.

Watch a multiple-day painting come to life in under 3 minutes.