My work is unseen in its formation. Unlike generations of abstraction, my work is not drawn from the self. My work is not a representation of a mark taken from my hand alone and the inner self is initially unrelated to the creation of the line.
It is drawn from a vertical and horizontal connection to nature, unseen with the eye but felt with the soul.Once back in the studio, I am left with a language that is foreign. It is with this language, the mark of feeling, that I write the sentences and complete the story of connection. I have always seen my drawing as figuration. Each image is alive, breathes, and exists. Each drawing gives a presence, a certainty, and a quiet confidence waiting for the viewer to engage.
My work gives form to the formless. It is a reaction to a mark, not from inspiration, but a mark from nature. Using dowsing rods, walking across open land with pen attached and paper in hand, I find the structure of the drawing.
Just as sailboats harness the wind and a full sail pushes a ship forward, my body is a receptor to the water below, controlling the uncontrollable. Though a sailor does not have complete control of the wind, where wind is found, it can be used. Walking over the ground I find water deep below the surface. I search for feeling, a movement. When it is found, the pen moves creating the line. I use the push and pull of the reaction my dowsing rod brings to form a drawing. The motion of my steps interacts with the movement of the pen; if I stop walking, so stops the line. It is a delicate balance between nature and the hand.
Where my hand would naturally go left, the pen now goes right. The framework set up through the drawing is dictated by the external with a removal of the personal. They are moments trapped in time with a line; records of my connection to nature.
Two years ago while vacationing at the family farm, a friend noticed the dowsing rods lying on the porch and asked what they were. I explained that they were used to find water underground. The dowsing process involves holding two metal rods in each hand and as you walk over the land the rods will move involuntarily if there is water below. I learned this technique from my father, who was taught by his father. I was intrigued to see if I could turn this process into a drawing or some sort of image.
Like a seismograph, I attached a string to one dowsing rod and then a pen to the end of the string. Moving across the land I let the pen flow over the sheet of paper recording the movements of the dowsing rod—pulling the drawings from the ground. Over the next six months, I made approximately fifteen thousand drawings with a dowsing rod.
Back in my studio with stacks of these dowsed drawings, I was intrigued on where I could take them. The involuntary line the dowsing rod had made was foreign to the twenty years of drawings I had previously produced. One day in the studio I started reworking the dowsed drawings—strengthening some lines, leaving others letting my eye find its way in.
These drawings begged for large scale. I did not want to simply transfer these to a large canvas and paint them in, losing the spontaneity. A fellow artist suggested that I could simply enlarge them by making prints. This process then allowed me to work with the background without losing the quality of the original drawing.
These prints have now found a home between my painting and drawing practice, acting as a bridge between what had been two separate practices.
The Willow Branch series was started a few years ago in my studio as a break from my paintings. The immediacy and freshness of the ink on paper felt like a wonderful meditative exploration to me. I trusted the brain in my wrist to guide my hand and allow myself the freedom and looseness to find the form. With a minimal amount of lines there was nothing to hide behind. The sureness of my eye and the distance I had from the work using sharpened willow branches dipped in ink created drawings that are both elegant and fine.