artist’s statement

The sixth great extinction is underway. This time it’s our fault.

In each of my oil portraits, an equal Being meets the viewer eye-to-eye. Each is present, self-possessed, and – in a way – has posed for their own portrait. These are distinct and specific beings, not generic representatives of their kind.

In 2015, I began to meet all the endangered species I paint. To find them, I travel to zoos. Where possible, I spend days visiting and revisiting the same animals, sitting with them, watching, taking pictures, speaking with their keepers, speaking with them. Most regard me in return. Back in the studio, my sense of the animal is present as I work.

The painterliness of the surface is of great interest to me. As a self-taught artist, my most important tools have always been experimentation and observation. I am not a photo-realist. My interests lie more in fur-ness than fur and I experiment continually to achieve the textural details, relying on translucent layers, textures, and cheap frayed brushes.

Some of this complexity is rendered less visible in representation, making the paintings seem more photographic than they actually are. Surface texture and subtle variations of color can disappear before the camera. In reality, all my blacks are all built from colors that appear and melt away in changing light and movement. Details in the shadows can come and go.

dawn