I was born and reared in the amber light of northern California. You can see that in many of my paintings.
When I reached draft age I joined the navy to avoid Vietnam –– didn't work. After 18 months as a "deck ape" on a destroyer in the West Pacific, I created a portrait of my captain. He returned the favor by arranging my transfer to a military journalism school. After graduation came 13 months in Cuba (Guantanamo Bay).
From there to Italy, where I finished out my four year hitch. Before returning to the states I toured Europe, serendipitously stumbling upon an exhibition of Van Gogh paintings –– a religious experience for me at 23.
My "formal" art education followed at San Francisco Art Institute (BFA) and Sacramento State University (MA). I earned my tuition as one of San Francisco's first licensed street artists.
I skipped many of my studio classes in favor of working outside en pleinair. My painting vocabulary is strongly influenced by the textures and patterns of the landscape that surrounded me in my youth. California fences, rolling foothills and 200-year old cow paths still show up in my paintings, which move between realism and abstraction.
In 1978 I moved to West Michigan where I taught art (can anyone really teach art?) for six years in local colleges before settling into my full-time vocation as a painter.
Much of my inspiration comes from 19th century European artists, including the Impressionists and Barbizon School painters. In my figurative interiors, it is not hard to see my love for the work of the French "intimist" painter, Pierre Bonnard.
My American influences include Albert P. Ryder, Milton Avery, George Inness and the mystical, tonal California paintings of Gottardo Piazzoni. I also came under the influence of the San Francisco Bay Area Post Abstract Expressionists. I am especially drawn to the California light, compositions and searching, palimpsest painting surfaces of Richard Diebenkorn.
Much of my work remains semi-abstract, but I am often pulled away from my studio to paint directly from nature. I have answered this call since I was 15. Grand Rapids Magazine wrote that I am “rejoicing in the rightness of created things.” I choose to read this from a Pantheistic point of view. I do not believe in a personal, or anthropomorphic god. However, I am in awe of the universe, especially as it is manifest in nature, which I have no problem equating with divinity.
My wife, Victoria Peabody, is an art and early childhood educator and designer of educational tools. 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 accompanies me on most of my painting trips, recording in her journals with notes and sketches and has described our excursions through Michigan, northern California, Italy and France as "...pleasant days suspended in quiet nature."
Yeah, that's true.