The silkscreening technique I use mirrors the layers and weight of the earthy plant textures of my mid-western prairies and woodlands, which comprise a body of work I have been exploring for the last twenty years. The prairie around me is a unique ecosystem, supporting plants and wildlife, like the endangered Karner blue butterfly, that are not found in other environments. I have a deep affinity and respect for these beautiful, precious plants, for how their complexity, integrity improve the water, soil, and air quality-ultimately preserving our eco systems and ecological communities. I am painfully aware that if the host plant, lupine, dies out, so does the stunning Karner blue butterfly.
After years of drawing and painting, I’ve found silkscreening plays off my background in design while giving me a richness of color and surface quality that goes beyond paint, yet echoes the fluid flexibility of paint—a vital quality for the inherent movement in my work. I use a traditional silkscreen process, meticulously building up 20 to 100 layers of color, one “pull” at a time—from transparent to opaque to the shimmer of iridescent inks—as I interweave the background and core images of a piece with alternating textures of photography, drawing and surface painting. Ideas come alive from personal experiences in my own native garden, or while visiting the healthy, open spaces of a local prairie or woodland. As I walk down a path and into a single breath taking moment of native beauty, I am moved by the big power of small plants, with their endless layers and textures, to sustain our world and give us so much.
My passion for identifying native plants and wildlife, on long hikes throughout Wisconsin and in my own yard, allows me to meld their realistic details with my own aesthetic. My silkscreens become a personal, visionary hybrid of what I behold with my eyes and the powerful feelings of aliveness that I experience in the natural world around me. In fact, I love the prairie and woodlands so much that I turned my suburban yard into a wildlife habitat, taking three years to carefully establish a native prairie outside my door. From there, I worked with my hometown of Elm Grove to turn a vacant lot, once a VFW Post, into an local habitat and educational native landscape dedicated to our veterans.
As I review my artist journey, it’s clear that part of my primal foundation was a painter who lived next door. I spent hours in her studio, side-by-side, painting still life and landscapes with her. I was in grade school, yet she took my work seriously. She shared her techniques, and then leaned over to ask about mine—how did I create such a smooth reflection, or what brush did I use to create a realistic tree texture? My childhood home was also full of important reproductions. I would study Vermer’s “The milkmaid”, Ernest Albert Land’s “The violin”, and Claude Gelleé’s landscapes—marveling at these masterpieces, wanting to follow in their footsteps. Art infused my life and throughout high school I entered contests, winning numerous local and state awards. I went on to study at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, on a one-year scholarship, where my first year of work earned me the coveted three-year, Frederick C. Layton scholarship. Once I graduated, my major in illustration and minor in drawing and graphic design suited me perfectly for a position in advertising where I began as a graphic designer and moved up to senior art director. It took me awhile, but now I see how my work in the commercial art world supports my fine art with a deeper understanding of how people are affected and influenced by what they see.
Alongside my creative, commercial work, I became an active member in a national landscape organization, The Wild Ones, where my awe for the natural world intersected with the fine art I was producing professionally. I became obsessed with reading every book I could get my hands on about native landscapes, realizing that this knowledge would deepen the visual stories that my work evokes.