“Balance is not something you find, it's something
Cairns have become a personal symbol in my quest to live a
well-balanced life. You start with a solid foundation stone and build from there. Day-by-day, year-by-year, we build our inner cairn constantly balancing the many facets of our lives – personal pursuits, professional goals, relationships, order, rhythm and harmony. When they are out of balance our cairn falls down. Failure? No, but we must rebuild our cairn all over again. When our life is balanced we feel it. Balance is an internal state.
When I come across someone else’s cairn, sitting strong on the edge of a great lake, or precariously on a windswept promontory, I know I have found another seeker searching for balance in their lives. Seeing these creative stacks of rocks created and left behind by others, inspires my paintings. I consider these paintings to be collaborations with seekers I’ve never met.
The painting, Cairn in the Morning Mist, was inspired by a cairn built a couple feet offshore in Lake Superior near Grand Marais, Minnesota. The sun was just rising through the early morning mist.
So why would you want to paint rocks?
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on an Ozark Creek gravel bar picking up ancient smooth stones and throwing them in the fast flowing stream “Plunk". Pick up another one. "Plunk", the sound of the rock splashing in the water. My mother said I would spend hours entertaining myself tossing those rocks.
At about nine years old on a family vacation out west I went into my first rock shop and truly discovered the beauty of rocks. Rocks have color, shape, texture, weight and strength; the very same characteristics I try to capture in paintings today.
I saw my very first cairn on a fishing trip to Canada. We were driving along a gravel road and about every mile or so there would be a stack of rocks along the side of the road. Stopping at a gas station the attendant explained they are "cairns", used to mark trails and guide people to their destinations.
The natural world and the environment have always been a powerful influence in my art, but so has man and our relationship to the environment. A rock is nature, but it can be a trail marker, a man can stack rocks and turn them into a symbol, a fence, a shelter or even an exquisite sculpture. It is where nature and man come together I create may best paintings.
North shore Cairn is one of my earliest paintings, inspired by cairns found on Lake Superior. My goal was to work with a monochromatic palette where the lighting, values and texture are key. In Northshore Cairn you can see the heavy influence of the mid 20thcentury photographers, Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams.