ETCHED WOOD PANELS Exploring pattern, rhythm and structure in nature.
As an artist looking closely and with attention is what I do. Over the 30 years of my career, my gaze has been fascinated with many subjects. I came to see that the common thread through these interests was pattern, structure and rhythm. These are the things that together create the universe. My focus in this new work is on the surfaces, shapes, and textures of the small things around me that when connected together create complexity, like a brick and a building, or a leaf and a tree. By exploring vegetative architecture and building surfaces, window decals and intertwined root systems, I hope to better understand the underlying simplicity of life itself and the “stories” or visual narratives we encounter every day. This simple act of seeing is a veneration of the world around me, an homage to life in all its magnificence.
This work is photo based. As a resource I use my library of thousands of images, collected over many years. Using computer-based photo editing programs, I rebuild the image, discard the color and distill it down to what I see as its essence. This image will either be used on its own or collaged with other images into a single work composed of multiple images. This final stage exists as a black and white actual size digital image file that is used to laser-etch the image onto wood panels in incredible detail, much the same way an image is printed onto paper.
The etching process creates a three-dimensional surface, the black in the photo being etched deeply and the white not at all. The wood surface is essentially burned by the laser during the etching leaving a glorious bright sepia color around the various etched areas. Sometimes I will use this natural burnt-wood color and simply add pigments such as the black of charcoal, the shiny grey of graphite, along with white, grey, oxblood, sepia and terra cotta chalks. In other pieces the surface is sealed to prevent the burned pigment from leaching through, and the image is colored with pastels. This is essentially a drawing process as opposed to painting. No liquid paints are used, only dry pigment either as powder or in stick form like pastel. This is when the image surrenders to my hand, revealing a deeper identity.
These pieces celebrate my joy of being immersed in the visual world, the joy I feel from "looking deeply" at everything that is around me. This looking enables connections and pieces them together into stories. My hope is that these stories will refresh the viewer and enable a deeper looking in them too.