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Acrylic on panel
Dimensions: 34.3cm (H) x 34.3cm (W) x 3.3cm (D) / 13.5" (H) x 13.5" (W) x 1.3" (D)
Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.
This painting is a part of my Los Angeles series inspired by hundreds of snapshots I have taken while walking through the city several times over the last decade. I have been experimenting with metallic paints and a soft color palette. This painting includes a natural wood floater frame. Painting is 12 x 12 in. and 13.5 x 13.5 in with frame.
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Hometown: Kingston, NY
Based in: Albuquerque, NM
I was born in 1974 in Kingston, NY. After a brief and notably unsuccessful stint at Parsons School of Design in the early 1990s, I found myself in a creative dry spell for about two decades. Then in 2012, I met Ann Crouch, an artist and the owner of Sunset Art Center in Amarillo, TX.
I was working in advertising for Southwest Art Magazine, and Ann was one of my clients. Every time I visited, she asked if I was an artist. And every time I responded with, “No, absolutely not, not me.” Then on one visit, she asked if I would keep her company while she painted. When I got to her studio, she had an extra easel set up with a blank canvas. She suggested that I let her squeeze a few colors of paint onto the canvas and then I could push the paint around with a palette knife or brush. I did just that, and then I did it every time I visited Ann for the next several years.
Ann passed away unexpectedly in 2017. I was heartbroken, and I felt that it was my responsibility to continue creating art, or else I would lose it again for another two decades. It felt like Ann was watching me and guiding me. That day, I made it my mission to keep a sketchbook. I also started snapping pictures of things that inspired me if I couldn’t take the time to sketch.
Eventually I stumbled on a few articles about painter Agnes Martin, and then I read her biography. It turns out that Agnes and I have a lot in common: two tries at making it in New York City; mental breaks that put us in the same New York City hospital; escaping to New Mexico; attending the University of New Mexico; and, of course, a passion for the square and lines. I’ve always liked the fact that, when Agnes returned to painting after a long break, she completed her first set of new paintings the same year I was born.
I loved every Agnes painting I found, and I wanted to explore the grid more. So I bought vellum and graph paper and started to sketch some grids, and I came up with color combinations based on favorite album covers. I made several grid paintings with gouache on paper, but they were painstakingly slow.
Meanwhile, I had begun looking at everyday scenes differently—particularly glimpses of architecture, aerial views of cities and farmland, and shapes found in nature. I was fascinated with the vast universe of color combinations that can be applied to patterns. My sketchbook was filling up, and I wanted to explore other ways of turning those sketches into paintings.
In early 2019, I started to research painting techniques with acrylic on canvas and found many ways to paint hard-edge geometric paintings. I ran into more influential artists like Ellsworth Kelly, Frederick Hammersley, Frank Stella, Bridget Riley, Ad Reinhardt, and Barnett Newman. I consider them to be my teachers, and I have taken a bit from each of their practices.
By paring down my observations of the world around me, and then applying the techniques I have learned while studying my favorite artists, I have found a style I am completely comfortable working in. This work is as much about the process as it is about the final outcome.
Agnes Martin once said, “To progress in life, you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind.” This is so simple, yet so true. This thought passes through my mind each day and keeps me painting.
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