Who or what is the biggest inspiration for your art?
I am influenced by artists who explore the future. I am influenced by the abstract expressionist artist Mark Tobey (1890-1976), and other leading artists of the Abstract Expressionist period. I see art as a higher form of nature. I’m inspired by artistic innovation. Native American art, with its raw courage and innate and uninhibited aesthetics inspires me. I draw on the influence of dance, opera, ancient music, Japanese art and poetry.
Please tell us more about your working process and the way you approach new artworks
I paint every day in my studio. I lay out my work in a series of sketches but when I paint I avoid structure. I avoid anything that obstructs the flow of creativity. I seek intuition, instinct, imagination, innovation and inspiration. I make my own paintbrushes and lay them out before I paint. Then I strive to detach myself from outside influences. I seek an inner light, a connectivity with form, space and line. Then I paint. I have a note tacked to my studio wall that says, “A plan is not a good thing to start a painting from.” I like to think I am “unthinking.” Let the universe think for me. But before I paint I gather on 100% of my experience. Then I don’t use it. Experience is the thunder; I paint the lightening.
What motivates you the most in your artistic journey?
Where are we now in history? What is the true voice of our times? What is contemporary art saying to us? Capturing an image and putting it into the picture plane is the first step to moving forward. And it’s in that direction the future lies. I am fascinated by the process of breaking down forms, or smashing forms, and then recreating them with a freshly personal style and a strong inner sense of aesthetic. A line is a hunter, an emotion. A color connects the image to the eye. Shapes are experiences; places to live for a while. We live in a new age of new intellectual horizons, new relationships with others and a host of unexplored visions. Old visions, old ways of thinking, don’t work anymore. We paint new images because our new world we live in demands them.
Who or what has recently impressed you?
My son, the actor Rainn Wilson (recently in NBC’s “The Office”) inspires me. He has a substantial art collection, as well. When we’re together we visit galleries and museums and talk about art, contemplate art and most of all, enjoy art. Art is a true link between us. Art is what links generations going back to ancient times. I am inspired by people who are happy.
Which artist, dead or alive, would you want to have a beer with?
There have been visionary artists at the core of every artistic movement. I would talk with any one of them. How about Van Gogh as a starter? He captured the new age in his paintbrush. Also Raphael. He freed the renaissance and made it deeply human. Tintoretto: a personal obsession with spiritual forces as seen in the faces of his enlightened subjects.
How do you spend your free time besides artistic work?
I enjoy writing, being with my wife, playing with my dog. And then writing some more. I also serve on the board of directors of three arts organizations. I enjoy working with people who promote the arts and I like to promote artists at all skill levels. My studio is open for visitors.
Do you have any dream projects in mind that you would like to do in the future?
I’d like to write a book about contemporary art and navigating the age in which we live.
How do you decide whether you have finished a new artwork?
Less is more. I stop before I feel a painting is finished, then carefully study the painting. I want to see discipline as well as a certain aesthetic. A painting frees the vision; it doesn’t capture the vision. Art has a spiritual presence. It whispers the pleasures of the soul. Inner turmoil is often instinct at work. The paint is what painting is all about. Paint is a language, each drip and smear and brushstroke a word. This is what I look for in my work. When I see the language I know the painting is complete.
Do you feel a closer connection to abstract expressionism in the vein of Mark Rothko or Joan Mitchell?
I saw an exhibition of the later works of Rothko at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. Somber and moody. Powerful. The abstract expressionist Mark Tobey admired Rothko, a friend of his, not only for his art but his profound struggle with the unknown, the mystical forces that shape us. Joni Mitchell paints unrestricted movement. Her oeuvre is a mind-candy of intense line and color, impossible to achieve without a profound grasp of composition and mature technique. Her work is endlessly instructive. I admire them both.
World Map – can you tell us more about this artwork and its title?
World Map depicts a world of confusion and disorder. The world today is lost in the turmoil of rapidly floundering civilizations. There is a disintegration of entrenched institutions and an inability of organizations to break free from superstition, tradition and imitation – self imposed limitations that keeps us from achieving a vision of our future. The future, however is enlightened. We are in the process of coming together as one human race. That’s the reason for the turmoil in the world today, and therefore the reason for World Map. It is too early in history to paint a united world.