Design became a way for me to see as an artist
My undergraduate studies of analytical drawing, painting letterforms, arranging dots and lines, and graphic translations were the foundation. What I thought were the meticulous constraints of design became, in time, a way of seeing and visually interpreting the world around me. I saw compositions in nature, structure in open landscapes, and textures in urban environments that I was inspired to translate into dynamic drawings and mark-making. An ongoing investigation of the line and its expression became the heart of my artwork.
I attribute this way of seeing and experiencing the line to Christine Zelinsky, who was my mentor and remains a dear friend to this day. Analytical drawing was quite technical, a learned way to understand form, dimension, and perspective of objects. But Chris’s way of teaching also showed me how to feel when drawing—how to feel intuitively if the form felt right, or if the line quality accentuated the perspective well. Even deeper, how my hand holding the pencil on paper could feel into the subtlest of lines and intensity of strokes. That felt sense of seeing and drawing had a profound impact on me.
Sometimes I’m asked why I only work in black and white. For many years I’ve said that it was because black gouache, or ink, or pencil, or charcoal was cheaper than buying all those colors; and because the tools were easier to take along when I often moved or lived abroad. The truth is, working in black and white has completely held my attention all these years, ever since those early graphic design classes. It is perhaps now my one deliberate constraint, giving some order to the chaos expressed out of my hands and from which my felt sense creates.