Good design is the bedrock upon which any successful artistic enterprise is built. The psychological space a work of art occupies, its visceral magnetic allure, is as meaningful as its physical presence. As an artist, I’m keenly aware of the importance of this principle. The measure of success I achieve is directly related to my understanding of these dynamics.
Craftsmanship is also unequivocally vital. Solid construction technique, an understanding of wood behavior, and attention to detail are absolute prerequisites to the success of the finished product. Every component of a piece deserves the same degree of scrutiny and attention. Each part is an integral component of the whole.
I spent much of my professional life in the 2-D world, painting photorealistic street scenes on canvas. Years spent photographing and observing urban life taught me much about form and design. Odd, seemingly random patterns can spark a new idea or fresh approach to a piece.
My design influences are many and varied. The shapes and proportions of interesting buildings may spark an idea. Almost any other artwork can have an impact. Art Deco and Asian influences are certainly evident in some of my pieces. Often the wood will suggest an idea; a particularly unusual grain pattern or texture can trigger an interesting project. Even organic sources such as land formations and plant structures exert subtle pull.
Wood combinations are also very important. The interaction of various grain patterns, colors, and textures can define a piece and its impact on the viewer. Too much going on and it’s a visual jumble; too little and it’s pedestrian and dull. I spend a great deal of time sorting through my collection of different woods (and other materials as well), to find the right combination that will conspire to lift my work to new heights.
Often it’s an open-ended process. Much of my work grows and matures on its own. That is, I may start with a specific idea, but as things progress, new ideas or observations come to mind and the piece may change direction. Wood turning, like stone sculpture, is subtractive in its approach. You cut away at something to reveal the hidden beauty within. As shavings fly off the piece of wood, new patterns emerge as well as new spatial relationships. This affects the way I further compose the piece and surprising things often result that completely transform the final object.
That’s a big part of the fun, and it can be an even bigger challenge to free my mind and let intuition and inspiration take over. It’s a calling with many rewards and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
1946 – Born in Lafayette, Indiana
1948 – 1965 – Grew up in Connersville, Indiana and Rochester, New York. While in Rochester developed a strong interest in jazz and classical music.
1965 – 1970 – Attended Indiana University School of Music, majoring in bass trombone (someone had to do it).
1968 – Married Penny Akens
1969 – Graduated from Indiana University with a coveted degree in bass trombone.
1970 and 1973 – Became father of two perfect children: Theresa and Adam.
1970 – 1979 – Seven years of blue light specials at K-Mart (even trombone players have to eat).
1974 – Began painting as a hobby.
1977- 1999 – Pursued a full time art career painting photorealistic urban landscapes.
1999 – 2009 – Designed and built contemporary furniture and accessories
2009 – Present – Designing and creating turned wood vessels and sculptures