In March 2006 I took the opportunity to work as a linguist in Iraq for two years with the U.S. Marines on a Military Training Team, teaching the Iraqi Army various skills, most of them having to do with bomb disposal techniques. I was able to go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure because I happen to speak, read and write Arabic, having been born in Egypt in a missionary family. That was an exciting adventure, and I hope I did some good, but then I came back in 2010 to our home in western Pennsylvania. I'm enjoying getting used to the peaceful surroundings, and waking up to the rushing of rapids on the Greater Neshannock Creek, rather getting jarred awake at 3 AM by that booming loudspeaker voice on the early-warning system in Ramadi announcing, 'INCOMING, INCOMING'.
And so, welcome to the new, less-cumbersome website. I hope you'll find the links easy and accurate. If you have any suggestions for improvement, they will be welcomed.
Ideas about Art
The main reason I took up painting back in 1985 was that I noticed I had an uncanny ability to paint faces and get a good likeness. Now as I get older, I seem to be getting better and better at this rare talent. One source of inspiration as I entered the world of painting back in 1985 was seeing the portraits of Rembrandt at the Smithsonian. I also got a guided tour of their special exhibition of the art of Gilbert Stuart, who painted the portrait of George Washington that appears on the dollar bill, I took a studio class under the tutelage of contemporary portrait artist Daniel Greene, who taught me many of the portraiture techniques I use today. I also draw inspiration from the French impressionists, and my landscape style tends towards the exaggeration inherent in their style, although in many senses my style is unique. Like many of the impressionists, I enjoy both portraiture and landscape, and I find it visually exciting to see the evolution of a painting from formless areas of color and stray marks into something with shape, color, contrast. I think my driving force is an experimental curiosity. I often begin a painting thinking, 'I wonder what it would look like if...', then the question evolves into: 'I can't wait to see what this is going to look like.' In answer to the question, 'Which one of your paintings is your favorite?' my answer is usually, 'The one on my easel.'
My landscape paintings result from the sense of awe I feel in witnessing the compelling contrasts in the landscape all around me; with my art I'm trying to recreate on a two-dimensional surface, with color, form and texture just a hint of the power of that visual impact. Early in my art career a mentor told me, "Paint what you know." That's what I'm trying to do. Maybe some day I'll have an epiphany which leads me to stray from this, my 'optimistic period' to address the weightier issues of humanity. But that hasn't happened yet, so I choose to reflect right now on that which inspires rather than depresses...ergo, my artistic statement: "WOW!"