A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world or an alternate universe born out of the creator’s need to escape an extended period of trauma.
My work aims to say that we as humans really exist in the in-between. We have our public personas, our work / professional personas, we have our intimate relationships, and social media personality.
We all have our secrets. We exist somewhere in between all the aspects of ourselves, and they create an awareness in our consciousness that has a direct and lasting effect on the world around us. We exist more in the dream aspect of o ourselves then we wish to acknowledge and that causes endless conflict.
What motivates and inspires you?
My greatest inspirations come from nature and my dream imagery. I am motivated by a need to paint and the fact that my eyesight continues to deteriorate. I have thousands of visions for paintings I have yet to paint.
What process do you go through mentally when you are creating a piece?
That is a difficult question, as for many years my mind was everywhere all at once, making it very difficult to focus. I often start as many as ten to fifteen paintings at a time, bouncing back and forth between them. I spend a lot of time working in my sketchbook to get ideas down before I lose them, so I have visual reference to return to. I work almost in a state of lucid dreaming, and I am painstakingly slow. I am intensely critical of my work and often abandoned pieces I have spent many months or years working on.
What role does the artist have in society?
Art has a profound importance historically and culturally. It tells the story of our past, it gives a glimpse of the future, and records the present. It truly impacts us on a daily basis even though we may not be aware of it.
How do you navigate the art world?
I prefer to stay pretty low key. The art world is a difficult place to navigate. It has its challenges like any profession, and it takes money as much as it does talent or skill. It is more about who know than what you create. I avoid it mostly because I am not a fan of social media and you essentially have to be a TicTok, YouTube, or Twitter star to really break down the door into the art world. I have no time or desire for that when I spend twelve to fourteen hours a day painting in the studio, which is not conducive to being a rising star in our modern times.
How has your practice changed over time?
It has changed in a number of ways. Early on in undergraduate and graduate school my work was mostly large textural abstractions, though my sketchbooks contained the elements and ideas of what I create today. My work continued to get smaller and more detailed. My palette has brightened considerably as a result of my Retinitis Pigmentosa because I have a difficult time distinguishing color intensity and values of light and dark.
What is the biggest challenge of being an artist?
I think the biggest challenge would be financial instability. You are constantly dependent on the success of a show. It’s expensive to be an artist, from the cost of materials to have an art studio and the cost of submitting show applications. It can be quite the rollercoaster ride and it takes an emotional toll.
What themes do you pursue?
I pursue themes relating to dream imagery and visual storytelling in a kind of magical realism. Within those themes I explore our complex relationship with our environment, the struggles of mental illness, and childhood trauma by creating a magical detailed world to invite the view to detach from their current state of mind. I am also a practicing Wiccan, so my experience with that presents itself in my work.
What is your dream project?
I would really like to do a series of fairly large paintings while I still can see well enough to the ultra-fine details. A show of eight to ten large works full tremendous fine detail would be fantastic.
What superpower would you have and why?
My superpower would be to control the four elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire. I would use it to give back to the Earth what we have taken from it. (Like superhero Crystalia Amaquelin-Maximoff)
What is the biggest mistake you have made within your career to this point?
That would definitely be not getting the correct diagnosis for my ADHD and CPTSD sooner. I could have maneuvered my life in a much more constructive way. I burned a lot of bridges and didn’t follow through with a lot of opportunities because my mental illness prevented me from recognizing what I was doing and how I was reacting. I address this in my painting “Crisis Averted.” I spent years not managing my mental health and my career suffered as a result.
How have other artists or art genres influenced your sense of aesthetics?
I would have to say Remedios Varo (1908-1963), Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), gay surrealist painter James Gleeson (1915-2008), and Simon Stålenhag (1981-present) have set the tone of much of my aesthetic in terms of fine details and surreal elements. The earlier artists were never fully accepted into the Surrealist movement because Varo and Carrington were women, and Gleeson was gay. Varo’s work focuses on female empowerment by arranging details in settings that seem otherworldly. Carrington’s works is filled with magical realism and alchemy. This is especially potent in her memoir Down Below, which describes her psychotic experiences. James Gleeson, known as the Father of Australian Surrealism, looks at human nature in Surrealist landscapes with references to mythology. His work is both seductive and foreboding. Simon Stålenhag is a Swedish artist, musician, and designer whose artwork, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, and The Electric State are very much how I see our future.
How do you know when a work is finished?
I never really consider a work of art finished. I think you find a stopping point when the elements and ideas you have come to a harmonizing balance that works. I always feel there is room for more development, and I often return to a painting months or years later, such as I did in “The Unfamiliar, But Recognizable Realm Revisited.”
Artist’s note — The piece below is an over-painting of a painting I started many years ago and it survived the uncontrollable rage to destroy my work, as I often did due to my Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (a component of adult ADHD). I would destroy entire bodies of work because of an off-hand comment or a perceived or real negative criticism. Luckily, I was able to salvage this one and transform it into a new and beautiful world.