Earlier in my career I lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. The thunderstorms were more violent and severe than any I had ever seen; lightening causes more deaths there than anywhere else in the country. The excitement and fear of overwhelming forces, the nitrogen charged air and horizontal rain driven through closed windows had an almost supernatural quality. I saw myself standing in the middle of a field, a naked encounter with raw elements. Years later, back in the city, I began this cycle of paintings, inspired by the mystery and awe. To expand my awareness of the absolute wildness of natural forces I went storm chasing. Concomitantly I was exploring the dark aspects of my own nature.
The tornado metaphor opened the way to the expression of a whole host of ideas about creation and destruction, the invisible animating force of the universe, the numinous within the destructive, the darker aspects of nature.
I would love to paint these paintings plein air but that is, of course impossible. I start with a photograph of a tornado sometimes piecing together different images. I render directly on the surface without preliminary sketches working everything out on that one surface. The earlier work is on torn paper. The overall roughness of the pieces underscores a rawness as though the pieces themselves had been battered around in the very storm they depict. In the translation from nature to film to computer to printer to reference the colors change, flaws become embedded. I often incorporate these flaws into the painting, to add another dimension to the surface. In more recent pieces, after working out the initial layers I shift to glazing, refining nuance with a million tiny brushstrokes until the mood of the piece is achieved.