I am the Painter of Cartographic Stories.
In her final days, my great-grandmother was asked to tell us a story. She shakily drew a map.
She drew the boundaries of a property near Herkimer, New York and then drew The New York State Thruway cutting it in half. She then told the story of how the highway had split their 72-acre farm when it was built in the 1950s. They had built a large culvert under the highway that provided access to the other half of the property, but she had feared using it because the local deer would charge through it at top speed.
That forever-poignant imagery is what I capture in my aerial landscapes. Every one of us, at the end of our lives, will still be able to sketch with gnarled hands the places that are burned into our memories. I awaken the memories and ask viewers to place themselves in another place and time.
I want you to simultaneously see a place you know and be intrigued the perspective I have captured. I work in encaustic - hot wax - to create three-dimensional interpretations of the topography of a landscape and then layer oil paint into and onto the wax. Combining these two mediums allows me to ask the viewer to both place themselves in a representational map and to consider the conversation between the land and humankind.
I talk with people all the time about the places that are most important to them and I learn more about humanity's connection to place through each conversation. If you have a place in your mind that is full of significance and memory, I would love to hear about it. Allowing me to tell your story through a commission deeply enriches the process.
Traditionally, I was first educated to be an agricultural economist and then a science teacher. After graduate school, I came back around to art through reading artist blogs, then attending art workshops, and finally dedicating myself to learning a few mediums through independent teachers around the country. I began teaching art workshops and showing my work during an artist residency in Spain in 2012.
As a creator of fine art, I have dedicated myself to producing archival quality paintings. My work is done on cradled panels that are ready to hang or frame. The cradles and the backsides are painted in a dark brown to seal the wood panel and give a finished look.
Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, the western coast of North America, and Nevada mining operations frequently capture my fascination when scanning the planet from space. The Black Rock Desert, Edinburgh, and Italy are among my recent commission work.
How I Got Here
Childhood - When asked I said I wanted to be either a writer or an artist. In second grade I wrote a bio of myself in which I said I wanted to be an artist and a scientist. I guess I always knew what I loved. I grew up surrounded by academia and woods in Western Massachusetts.
College - Just about every major fascinated me, but I decided art wasn't practical enough so I majored in Resource Economics and Plant and Soil Science. Towards the end of college I realized that working with teens brought me a lot of satisfaction, so I made the safe choice to get a Masters in Education and pursue teaching middle school science. I got married (definitely too young but I thought I was an adult).
2006 - I started working full-time and started reading artist blogs to once again indulge my creative side.
2008 - I attended my first art retreat to take classes with the artists I followed. Something shifted.
2009 - I took a painting class with Judy Wise and was introduced to encaustic. I was fascinated, but painting was still a scary prospect. I started producing my own tshirts with stenciled natural imagery taken from my own photography. Perhaps the first distraction from painting.
2010 - I began taking encaustic seriously as a medium I wanted to master. I started taking workshops all over the country and attending conferences.
2011 - I started an online network for creatives. An interesting idea but in the end would be my biggest failure, money pit and teacher. Nevermind my biggest distraction from painting. I will say, starting a business you can't explain without a revenue model is one way to learn about entrepreneurship. I went all in and quit teaching middle school. I missed the classroom and the students, but I had ideas I needed to explore.
I did a month-long residency in Spain. I had never painted this consistently and it was amazing. I painted images of homes and would for the next few years. I taught my first encaustic painting class and had my first show in Spain.
2012 - I traveled around the USA and Canada for 3.5 months running free art-making events in bars and cafes and crashing on couches. This trip transformed me. It deserves an entire book. Along the way I taught encaustic painting in Massachusetts, Oregon, California, and New Hampshire.
2013 - I went back to teaching middle school science in an interim position with the intention of finally looking west for a teaching position the next year. I still managed to teach encaustic painting in California, Maryland, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
2014 - I realized I would be moving west alone. I made the transition and resettled in Reno, Nevada which has turned out to be an incredible little city with both culture and wilderness. I took a position teaching 5th and 6th science at a small private school. I met an amazing man who told me to go paint. He still tells me to go paint.
2015 - I started teaching regularly at the Nevada Art Museum, a place I cherish. I wrote an artist statement that a year later would still resonate with me and I knew I was onto something. The man who told me to go paint asked me to marry him and I said yes.
2016 - I went into the studio to figure out what I should be painting. My previous work wasn't where I wanted to go. Close, but no cigar. I finally reached for my oil pigment sticks and something clicked. Encaustic for the texture, oil for the mushy color. I had been wanting to paint aerial landscapes and maps for years and I finally figured out how I wanted to do it. And I got married to my favorite human.