Animals are a continuing attraction as subjects in my work. Although I have painted a significant array of animals, I have focused mostly on horses and fish, and to a lesser degree on canines and felines. In the last 5 years I have done a series on bears.
Other animals sometimes intrude and want to be expressed so I let them loose. Each of these holds a special attraction to me because of the emotions they bring. I believe these emotions are universal.
Horses represent freedom, beauty, strength, a simpler life, a harder life, an attachment to nature. They have such beautiful shapes in all poses, whether running or standing. Their forms are wonderful to draw and paint, almost like women. They are a muse for me.
Fish are fluid flowing forms. They represent relaxation, beauty, movement, change. They are like paint itself. You can dress them up in color or mute them down into their water medium. You can’t help but look at them moving in water, watching them float or suddenly zip away, elusive, once here, now gone. They are but a stepping stone from the wild to your dinner plate, if you can catch them. Catching them in paint is just as elusive.
Canines come in so many forms, colors, and temperaments. I can almost throw any blob of paint on a canvas and turn it into a dog doing something. As a result they are fun to paint. Besides representing this playfulness and expression, they represent noise, companionship, loyalty, and wolves represent watchfulness, intelligence, the wide open wild.
Felines represent detachment, creature comfort, the unexpected. Domestic cats are like pillows, lying here and there in favorite spots, but I am more interested in the larger cats. Tigers have fascinated me since childhood. They engender fear and respect, something there lurking ready to pounce. They are the unknown, the primitive, the jungle, the night.
Bears are funny, ponderous, dangerous, a delight to observe. They have been depicted throughout folklore in humorous ways, dancing, brawling, marauding, causing mischief. They are symbols of destruction like the bear of the capital markets. They inhabit our subconscious in forms generating fear, the big bad bear coming to get us. As a spirit animal, they represent strength, power, a grounding in nature, courage against adversity. They are wonderful to paint in all these ways.
Birds are chattering air creatures, majestic and quick in flight, cumbersome on the ground. They represent freedom and opportunism, the desire to fly away somewhere different. I try to paint them with personality and sometimes give them human looks. Crows and Ravens are very smart. Their black against various backgrounds is very dramatic.