At first, as a young artist, I worked very hard to imitate the artists and art that I loved.
Then, a little later in my career, I worked very hard to not imitate artists and art I loved, but tried to be unique.
Now I do neither. I am concerned with something else—the expression of what I cannot express any other way.
Paintings say things you cannot say in words.
Ultimately, I think Lao Tzu had it right 2,500 years ago: “Those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.” I think visual art is like this. You can say things in a painting that you cannot say in words (or you would be, perhaps, a poet).
Art can make an enormous difference in the quality of life. It lets us dwell for a moment in something profound, something eternal. The human experience. It is about the best (and worst) of being human.
Many of my paintings take 10 years or more to complete. Painting on top of painting, each one opening up the possibility of the next one—layer upon layer, getting closer to what I am looking to express. Sometimes, if it goes the other way, the painting is destroyed and that particular inquiry is ended.
I have always engaged in the question: how do I create a great painting?
The act of making art itself is aligning with the source of the universe. It’s really inexplicable. When I make a painting, I am not “me.” I’m talking about when art is really happening. It’s transcendent. I feel used by something bigger than myself. What gets expressed is a voice that is not mine, but all of ours.