1948: Born and reared in the amber light of northern California.
1968-72: U.S.Navy ( Vietnam / Cuba / Italy ).
After my separation from the Navy, I remained in Europe for a brief period of time. In France I stumbled upon an exhibition of Van Gogh paintings, which was akin to a religious experience for me at 23.
1972-77: My "formal" art education happened at San Francisco Art Institute (BFA) and Sacramento State University (MA). The streets of San Francisco paid for my tuition. I was one of that city's first licensed street artists (I've got stories).
The out-of-doors was much more attractive to me than the school studios, so I skipped many of my classes in favor of working directly from nature. For many years the textures and patterns of the northern California landscape were the foundation of my painting vocabulary.
1978: I moved to West Michigan where I taught art for six years in local colleges (can anyone really teach art?) before settling into my full-time vocation as a painter.
My early inspiration came from 19th century European artists, including painters from the Barbizon School and the Impressionists. In my figurative interiors from the 90's one can easily see my love for the French "intimist" painter, Pierre Bonnard.
My American influences have included Albert P. Ryder, Milton Avery, George Inness and the mystical, tonal California paintings of Gottardo Piazzoni. I also admire the paintings of Wolf Kahn and Piazzoni's grandson, Russell Chatham. However, I have always been most especially drawn to the California light, compositions and searching, palimpsest painting surfaces of Richard Diebenkorn.
More recently I have been excited by the huge, imaginative paintings of Peter Doig.
Much of my work remains semi-abstract, but I am often lured away from my studio by the desire to paint directly from nature, a call I have answered since I was 15. A local glossy once wrote that I am “rejoicing in the rightness of created things.” This may have been a reference to God. However, I choose to read it from a Pantheistic point of view.
I am not a theist. Still, I am in awe of the universe, especially as it is manifest in nature, which I am willing to equate with divinity.
My wife, Victoria Peabody, is an art and early childhood educator / researcher and designer of early educational tools and environments. Her aesthetic sense is more progressive than my own, and she keeps me a little closer to the "edge" than I am naturally inclined to go. This is a good thing, since my tendency is to find a comfortable spot and not want to move.
She has accompanied me on many of my painting trips, recording in her journals with sketches and notes, describing our excursions through Michigan, northern California, Italy and France as "...pleasant days suspended in quiet nature."
Yeah, this is true.