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I derive my ideas from descriptive drawings of the folds in my hands and feet, observed in the strong light of my studio. I exaggerate, amplify and simplify areas of composition until the work begins to hover on the edge of ambiguous abstraction. At (the best of) times, several layers of meaning emerge.

I used to paint plein air landscapes as if the earth were an enormous body. I was drawn to the muscle and buttock of a rolling countryside. In these paintings, it is the reverse. The landscape spews forth from these tiny areas of my body.

The ambiguity of content frequently recalls for me a group of mountainous caves in central Mexico filled with shamanic rock paintings.

The palette is earthen. I want to investigate for the first time, the tensions of a square format in dialogue with the roundness of the forms. Painting on wood allows me to use brushwork in counterpoint with the grain of the wood.

I sometimes feel, unhappily, steeped in a tradition of European art history of painting about "things) whose symbolic content is universally understood: Odalisque, mirror as "vanitas", the writers of the gospels as man, lion, ox, eagle, the predella as background narrative.

My wrinkles, instead, are up for dispute.
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As I've lived and taught and painted in diverse places--Mexico, Morocco, Afghanistan, India, western Tibet, New Mexico, Maine and Maryland-my imagery is a patchwork of sources and contexts. I am continually amazed by the way things are connected.

Years ago, I painted landscapes as subject matter. Over time, I became more focused on the content and idea underlying the landscape: muscle and mass, bosom and body. As IU moved closer to idea as subject matter, my work became more abstract and emotionally focused. I think my work is still informed by figural and landscape concerns.

All the sacred places I have seen appear to be stored inside of me when painting. These images come forth in ways I can't think my way into. For several years, I've painted a totemic form, a curved organic shape. Of its or8gins I knew nothing. In 1999, my fifth summer teaching in Mexico, I came across a book in which learned my simple shape was frequently used in pre-Columbian pictographs. It was the corn kernel, symbolizing fertility, prosperity, and well-being.

I usually begin work by making thumbnail sketches, first in graphite, to clarify composition, and then in pastel, to explore color. I'm interested in the machinery of the imagination. These studies help me build a repository of images of the idea or narrative which grounds them. I often need a dozen or more of these doodlings before I am comfortable to begin painting. The resolved piece is never a duplicate of the sketches.

When I start painting, the feel of brushes, the juiciness of the oil paint and the emotional charge of the color on a grand scale take over. Sometimes I rub out and repaint a brush stroke many times until it looks as thought I got it right the first time. I like my paintings best when they have a particular balance of impulse and planning, of fragility and strength. A combination of soft and strong is my aim.
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