One way to describe what I'm trying to express in my paintings is empathy for the landscape. I grow deeply attached to familiar settings and have a hard time letting go of a beloved place. For example, every time I drive down Cedar Street to my studio, I feel a wave of affection for the empty gas station, the chunky fire department trials building, the humming Peet's Coffee shop, and the undiscovered biotech building where I always find a parking space.
I go out of my way to avoid ugly driving routes, but at the same time, I'm fascinated by the sometime charm of beaten down urban scenes. I paint both lyrical rural vistas and burned out cityscapes to show the feelings that both can evoke. Buildings, an extension of human vision and effort, can exude human emotions — elegance, sadness, fatigue, strength, pride and more.
Whatever they might say about why they paint, I believe many artists simply paint because they love working with the materials. For me, the emotional reward of painting also is tied to the physical pleasure of choosing, mixing, testing and applying paint. Recently, I bought a $100 brush. The lush quality of that brush cannot be exaggerated. When I reach for that favorite brush to paint a scene that I've come to care for, well, that's the crux of my painting experience.
One viewer looked at my paintings and said “There is sorrow in every piece.” Recently, I learned there is a Japanese idiom for what I'm trying to express— mono no aware. As the wikipedia explains, “This can be translated as ‘an empathy toward things’... both a transient gentle sadness at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.” If you experience such a feeling in my paintings, then I have succeeded.