I grew up in a large family in Hyde Park, a part of Boston. Hyde Park felt like a small town, with its many shops and businesses, and it had public transportation which gave freedom to go into Boston from my teen years on. Experiencing the city, from the gritty to the elegant, was a strong influence on my art and life. I had art influences in my family as my mother attended Mass College of Art, leaving before graduation to work in the shipyard during WWII. Mass Art had a very traditional curriculum at that time, drawing with charcoal from casts and setups, some of which I still have showing her drawing skill. Some of that teaching persisted when I entered in 1968 but it quickly changed with the influence of abstract expressionism. Fortunately, Dan Kelleher kept the life drawing sessions going and those became my strongest interest since I had no idea how to paint abstractly at the time. My uncle Jack Clift taught at the Museum School where I would visit him asking for feedback on my beginning painting attempts such as a copy of Van Gogh's Postman Roulin, which thankfully has not survived (the original is still safe at the MFA). Another strong influence was my aunt Ruth Clift, a superb draftsman and painter, who graduated from the Museum School and had a career in fashion illustration.
After raising a family and a having a career in graphic design, illustration, and web design, I returned to painting and drawing full time, and in the past two years have had a studio near my house in Wayland, Mass.
I work in a variety of media, including oils, acrylic, watercolor, printmaking and collage. I am the current president of my local art organization - Arts Wayland.
My work is in a number of private collections. I have donated work in recent years for charity auctions including fundraisers by the Wayland Business Association for scholarships; and a fundraiser for service dogs for veterans.
I pursue a theme or idea that interests me and use a variety of media to make an image that has balance, interest, and enough mystery for the viewer to participate in the interpretation of the work.
I am fortunate to have studied with some exceptional artist-teachers. First and ongoing is Pearl McCarthy (https://pearlmccarthy.com/) who runs oil painting sessions at Arts Wayland. She is a generous teacher and an artist with great talent and integrity. I have also taken workshops with Jack 'Hagop' Keledjian (oil painting), Gary Tucker (watercolor), Charlotte Wharton (plein air), Ruth Scotch (Danforth Arts), Ron Krouk and Charles Shurcliff (Concord Art), Donna Rae Hirt (printmaking), George Greenamyer (sculpture). And many more that I owe thanks to.
I usually begin with sketching from life or from photographs I have taken. A recent series – Winter Plants was inspired by the lines and shapes of dried husks and stalks remaining of plants outside my studio. I have a view of woods and fields, and the tangle of plants and vines are often filled with birds. The shapes of plants in this state remind me of a calligraphic language, spare as hieroglyphs, they seem to express something beyond themselves.
An owl series was inspired by the night calls of Great Horned Owls behind my house which borders a large brook and conservation area. I researched owls in mythology and was attracted to the concept of the owl as a messenger and symbol.
In my representational paintings of flowers, I am trying to capture the flower’s beauty and grace. Staring at a flower for hours allows you to see so much more, colors in shadows, elegant shapes, intersection of positive and negative shapes between the flowers. It is very challenging and interesting work.
Plein-air sketching is another activity I pursue in the warmer months. Some favorite locations include the quarry at Halibut Point north of Boston, historic sites near me including the Grist Mill and Wayside Inn, and the beaches and marshes of New England.