I have my family to thank for my wanderlust. While traveling with my grandmother as a child, I saw the Italian countryside for the first time. I still remember the scents of the lemon, jasmine, and lime blossoms rushing into our train compartment through the open window as we made our way through Tuscany. Even when that young, I was captivated by the beauty of the landscape, the sculpted cypress trees, the long rows of the vineyards, and the hills punctuated with olive groves. Thus began my love affair with Italy.

To keep me occupied during long train trips and stays in various villas, my grandparents bought me paper, colored pencils, and watercolors and encouraged me to create my own visual souvenirs. As I grew, my travels continued and my boyhood interest in sketching along the way matured into a passion for illustrating and painting. This show allows me to share with you my joined loves of travel and painting.

In terms of traditional painting classifications, some may conclude that I am a representational painter. Yet, I do not feel the need to accurately represent objects; suggestions of colors, textures, rhythms — the elements of which a painting is composed — are, for me, just as important. What matters most to me is to transpose nature’s awe-inspiring perfection into another visual language, my interpretation. Realistic abstractions are the result that I struggle to achieve. My final painting therefore doesn’t emphasize the literal but rather the fundamental characterization.

I view my watercolors as an expression of something in the process of evolving and I, the painter, am waiting for those creative forces to manifest themselves. The challenge is to at all times remain close to the creative spring, the center; to be watchful, alert, wide open; to allow myself to be nourished and developed by experience, especially travel. I couple the exploration of different lands and cultures, with the discovery of new techniques, materials, tools, etc. in order to extend expression.

When painting, I am in continual motion — flexible, open, in a state of invention. It is important for me to respond openly and spontaneously. I do this when I encounter what, to me, is beautiful. I respond by painting. I set out with alert eyes, heart, and ears; awake, aware, and unguarded; ready to be touched by the truth of things, to give myself up to wonder and astonishment before the richness of the world and what it has to offer me.

I find that traveling alone affords me the time to realize who I am; to be still, to listen to my deep centered self. Every time that I have traveled, what I have observed and experienced has echoed inside me. Forms, colors, scenes — a relation between ambiance and atmosphere — these stay with me and energize me. It is a repertoire — a visual buffet of forms, shades, textures and light. Often the subject matter inspires me, redolent with history. Each emotion, each moment of wonder, a phrase I’ve heard or read — all this is the raw material that I use in sketching, drawing, and painting.

Perhaps this response is playful, not pretentious. I try to incorporate my inner reactions to what I see and experience into my paintings.

The work in this show is site-specific. As I said above, the intent of my visual journal has not been to record the sights, but rather to capture the texture of the regions in which I’ve traveled and lived. The resulting en-plein-aire watercolors on exhibit here are my travel journals. They are moments in time that caused me to stop in my tracks, forced me to change my day’s plans in order to chronicle my reaction to that moment and to that moment’s light, feel, colors and shadows. The mornings, the afternoons, or the evenings, captured in small format consolidate the experience for me. When I review these paintings together with my written journals, I again experience the sights, the sounds, the smells of that long ago moment. This body of work, the product of several months living in Tuscany, is filled with the shimmering air of this beloved region under whose spell I have fallen. Memories of ripening lemons, centuries old terra cotta urns and garden statuary, the scent of rosemary roasting under the mid-day sun, the flat tops of umbrella pines, the narrow obscure winding village streets, the ochre-washed walls of the ancient villages themselves — all come back to me. This region is born of the sun; it lives by its light. This light is in constant motion, full of joy and energy. Today, even now, all this returns to me, a little at a time, and lives within me when I look at these watercolor “postcards”. I can linger and let all that warmth wash over my soul.

The choice of a small format for my paintings was deliberate; I wanted to create only spontaneous works that I could complete on the spot. Larger works would have taken too much time. These small paintings record moments in time as quickly as possible while traveling — painting en-plein-aire, adding nothing more to the piece after leaving the site. Therefore, my supplies were intentionally limited, easily packaged and carried, so that I could concentrate on living the moment.

“Fair Italy, Thou art the garden of the world, the home of all art yields and Nature can decree.” — Childe Harold

Although these pieces are presented here outside their original context within my written travel journals, I hope that the viewer can grasp the pleasure that I have experienced while traveling and painting.

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