All the Gifts

The past four years have seen me through episodes of treatment and recovery from a diagnosis of stage four colon cancer, which occurred almost exactly at the same time my wife and I learned of her pregnancy with our second daughter. Consequently, one could say this body of work is colored by a potent period of flourishing fatherhood and receding sickness.

In outlasting the disruption of my disease, I have felt a loosening of permissions in what I paint. I followed urges to explore painting the coastal landscape of my childhood, as well as portraiture of dear family members. But throughout all of my recent work runs my underlying influence, the suggestion of the unknown couched in familiarity. Since much in all of our lives is incomprehensible, as in facing both the fears of illness or the joys of parenthood, I have found that mystery in my narrative paintings sustains me as a necessary ingredient. We live unordered, emotional lives, and the obscure spaces where we cannot see are where art can best illuminate:

  • a young boy shouldering an immense burden with inhuman reservoirs of strength
  • two men of unknown association, in a landscape that may suggest an emotional one between them
  • a daughter, born during a lunar eclipse, who for an instant after an evening summer bath seemed to reveal to her father's eyes the woman within

Just as I cannot explain how being with my daughters has consistently fed feelings of joy and determination, I hesitate to define how my artistic practice has taught me the truth of all the gifts in my life. Perhaps I should be comfortable simply saying my family and my painting have helped me live.