A Songline in Aboriginal cultures describes the location of landmarks, water and natural phenomena, allowing the listener to build a cognitive spatial map of a place – even making it possible for listeners to navigate places they have never been before. The parallel lines and ‘footprint’-like patterns in ‘Signs Preceding’ are my own version of Songlines and Petrosomatoglyphs. I record my own experiences through color, line, pattern and mark-making, building a cognitive map that helps me revisit a particular place and time. My paintings become portals, in a sense- doorways into past memories.
The experience of place and time can include many things, for me it tends to be the landscape itself, the light, the air and the overall ‘feeling’ I get from being there. Other things can factor in as well; for example, I instinctively draw connections between whatever I’m reading at the time and my own abstract vocabulary of marks and gestures. Since I don’t plan any of my pieces before I start painting, whatever is floating around in my mind often ends up kind of mashed together.
In early 2017, I took a vacation to Hawaii and on a whim purchased the novel ‘Signs Preceding the End of the World’ in the airport. Yuri Herrera’s chapter titles really stuck out in my mind and I ended up naming a sketch of a place (where two parts of the ocean seemed to meet) after the first chapter, ‘The Water Crossing.' This sketch led to the entire ‘Signs Preceding’ series where I began to re-imagine his chapter titles as singular fantastical elements, taking on the kind of stories about a place that children make up when they’re exploring the landscape around them. At some point, the series took on a life of its own and you’ll see that the titles start to deviate. I name every piece after it’s finished, so even the titles that directly reflect Hawaiian landscapes are simply given as a reference. When I begin a painting, I don't know what the end result will be. One of my favorite teachers used to say, ‘The painting always tells you what it needs.’ I think about this a lot when I’m working. I try to keep the options open and let the painting unfold, using my subconscious intuition to make decisions as I go rather than making a replica of something I’ve previously imagined.