In early 2017, I began an adventure that moved me from San Francisco, California to Tulsa, Oklahoma—a part of the country to which I had never traveled. Over the course of past two years living in this new place, my work has begun expressing a longing for elsewhere.
Painting landscapes, especially tiny ones, is a thing of comfort. These pieces are small, and they are attainable to me. They are deeply satisfying to hold in my hand, where they become a physical manifestation of a memory the size of a matchbox.
The act of painting landscapes retroactively, using photographs as reference, is in itself a kind of escapism. As I paint, I sink into the fragrant soil of Point Reyes, watch elephants jockey over waterholes in South Africa, and breathe asphalt and air freshener as I speed along the highways of the American West on long road trips. Creating landscapes is also a means to experience the place where I now live, and to find beauty in everyday places.
When I begin to feel lost, or find myself missing a place, or even when I’m just not sure what to make, I can convince myself to pick up a brush and immerse myself in that place, to render it in watercolor in a 1.5 x 2-inch scene. For a few hours, I soak in that safe space as I paint.
Surveying this large collection of nearly 100 paintings, which only scratches the surface of the various landscapes I have encountered in my lifetime, I feel a sense ofcomfort remembering just how many of them I’ve seen, how many places I have felt deeply happy and at home, jubilant with the breeze on my face, the wet mist and the sun in the air, the crunch of the dirt and rock and grass beneath my feet.
Most images in this series are based on photos I took on my iPhone, and a few photos from family or online sources have found their way into the mix. A few pieces depict places I’ve never actually been—truly, the dreamiest projection of all--imagining myself in a moment that I did not, in actuality, experience.
Perhaps in viewing these places--some of which you may recognize, many of which are likely foreign--you will recognize something familiar in them. The vistas we cling to are not permanent, and this is an unbearably sad thought; yet there are so many places to embrace, so many iterations of everything. Landscapes change--sometimes subtly, and sometimes drastically--from moment to moment and second to second. There is room in you for many landscapes, and for you in them.