This site, in fact, my work is dedicated to Ed LaCasse, Jim Howell, Ed Zimmerman and my special brother Grant. That is for their huge part in helping me save myself from a dark time in my life to go on to discover and love what I now do.
I am an artist based out of Colorado who works with a variety of media. I am, however, often categorized as a photographer as that is how I record what I have learned and seen in my humble studio.
I love fine tools and skillful process as much as anyone, truly priding myself in my use and execution of both. I am clear, however, that my final work, if it is to meet my criteria for true art, has little to do with either. True art captures a piece of magic that is beyond process, beyond powerful tools and well beyond me. It is beyond my limiting mental concepts that automatically analyzes this and that and wants to stuff it all into the appropriate mental cubicle. Real art speaks to each of us directly and uniquely, and, if we are fortunate enough to have that experience, even for a moment, it has been an effort well done.
For my personal pursuit of that special place, I love tweaking perception, pushing envelopes and overworking my good tools.
I love the painterly, the colorful and the serene.
I love mixing the technical with the aesthetic.
I love pushing imagination and I really love playing with light.
I love inspiring people with big prints of special images of natural elements drawn from the everyday.
I love looking for that magic.
I seem to spark much debate as to how I really do my imagery. In an age where we tend to credit things we do to not understand perhaps too easily to some vague concept of "digital" we forget that even the mighty powers of the new technology only hope to approximate the marvels and miracles of nature. Why not, then, always start with that natural standard and let it perform its own magic? Is not, in fact, any artist no more than a translator of the influences and input into their lives that they had absolutely no part in creating in the first place?
Around ninety percent of the imagery you see here was done with an old 4x5 view camera and an equally old discontinued lens on a tripod that all cost $300, including the film holders, Polaroid processor and carrying case. In a very low tech studio, I concocted very real sets and setups using every means of light manipulation and perspective available to me, including projection, water,ice, gels, lenses, mirrors, fog, smoke and so on as well as simple natural process to bring you a new look and feel for common subjects, many of which grow in your own back yard.
The balance of the imagery in my portfolio was done with a digital back and lens that cost more than most of the cars that you see on the road. Yet the lighting, the elements of composition and the search for meaningful subjects has remained completely unchanged. The set creation, the discipline, the hours and frustration trying to bring out an experience that makes you, personally, appreciate a special visual moment without regard to how it was done remains unchanged.
What has changed are the possibilities.
To take a look at the "ingredients" that I use to create these images click here.
I grew up with the strange combination of brilliant parents in rural mountain poverty, always pushed by my eccentric father, a research physicist, to question the "how" and "why". My mother ended up becoming a fine archival bookbinder after somehow raising six kids with two adults, two dogs and a cat in a four room house. We never even had a real bathroom until the day we moved out when I was nearly fourteen. The oldest sibling, I was the only kid in my grade for my first seven years of school with a lot of time to reflect and watch the ways of my small world.
I was always entranced by the conceptual world of science, as presented by my father, and contrasted for me by the experience of the abundant nature around us, my refuge from our difficult family life. My work has been a bit of that combination ever since.
After dropping out of engineering school to pursue fine woodworking in my early twenties, I had my first personal experience of "art" with two crazy hippies who could do amazing things with a blazing forge, raw steel and pile of hand tools. Almost overnight, with a few more moving experiences, I came to understand the importance of fine craftsmanship to the creative process while realizing that it alone was not the final goal.
Over the next couple of decades, I spent time and worked with a tremendous variety of superb artists and craftsmen. From every possible discipline, I noted with fascination the amazing commonality of traits between the truly gifted that separated them from the mediocre majority. I also never stopped looking for the source of that special magic we were all hoping to capture in our work.
By the time I was in my early forties my art experience had severely drifted. I woke up to find myself with a 20,000 square foot plant, too many employees and the literal million dollar overhead. Though I was doing amazing projects all over the country for the ultra wealthy, I was stressed beyond belief, waiting for the ulcer and the heart attack.
On one particularly bad day, I pulled out the pictures of the last woodworking project that I had personally designed, built and finished from scratch.* Taking me over 400 hours to make, it had actually been a test run for a much bigger piece that I had wanted to build but had never been able to do.
I broke down crying, realizing that it had been over ten years since I had really been "hands on". I had some how turned into the president of a corporation with a misplaced soul; an icon for a dying trade.
Over the next couple of years I fixed that problem in grand fashion after completing over a million dollars worth of work for a 28,000 square foot residence. It had become a disastrous project, and, with an even bigger project coming behind it that that would surely kill me, I closed the business down. That caused the other half of my relationship of nine years to flee; she had no interest in my new found insanity in search of a new direction. The changes also cut my income so severely that I cried again.
Suddenly, with time on my hands and endless motivation, I began the cliche search for my new self. Having no idea as to what I was going to do, I did know that I wanted to be able to do it alone and that it had to incorporate both the technical and the aesthetic. It had to be affordable for all who were interested, not just the super elite, and I wanted anyone of any age to be able to appreciate it.
The next years were full of endless hours of learning with a lot of experimenting with a tremendous amount of support from some really fine people. Discovering and putting new tools to work trying to extract a bit more of that elusive magic from a new direction was an integral part of that process and the most rewarding fun that I had had in a long time.
What you see here is an expression of how that experiment is going so far.
*To see the "project" click here.