I was an Art History major at Rollins College. I also took several fine art/ painting classes, but not enough for a double major or even a minor. I spent a semester in Florence studying art history and was particularly drawn to the renaissance gardens, which is what sparked my initial interest in landscape architecture. Later, when I was getting my Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia, I went back to Italy for another semester, studying the landscape of Venice and the Veneto region. I would say I am ‘light’ on formal training as a painter, but I have plenty of design education.
What inspires you and your designs?
I see inspiration everywhere. Thoughtful design inspires me, natural beauty inspires me, and – clearly- the sky and horizon inspire me. Generally, I am drawn to a more minimalist aesthetic; less is more, for me.
How has your area influenced your work?
Most of my paintings could be considered ‘Southern California’ work, though not all of them. I think the creative energy of Los Angeles definitely motivates and inspires me, and I love noticing the difference in the quality of light in Southern California; I spend hours dreaming of ways to ‘capture’ it, to represent it. I could stare at the ocean forever and never tire of how the horizon changes. Even as my art evolves, I think I will always be interested in revisiting the horizon as subject matter.
What’s your favorite restaurant in your city?
Great White Cafe in Venice Beach, for a breakfast burrito and a ‘flat white’. In a town full of breakfast burritos, this one is a stand out, and the atmosphere and decor encapsulate the charm and grit of Venice. My best morning would be surfing at dawn with my son and then hitting Great White for breakfast!
Not very well! I have found that a ‘home studio’ doesn’t work for me; it’s too easy to get distracted by something that needs doing around the house. I have to physically leave the premises and paint at my studio (in the West Adams district of Los Angeles). I struggle seeing painting as ‘work’, to be honest.
What’s your dream trip?
Fun question, especially during this quarantine! I caught the travel bug in college with a ‘J- term’ trip to Greece and Egypt during my sophomore year and I learned I love the ‘adventure’ of travel, regardless of destination. I could go back to New Zealand and enjoy the wide, open spaces, or I could go back to Europe in a heartbeat, and get lost in the museums and the history and the architecture. There needs to be a sense of ‘authenticity’ ,though; I’m a bit less interested in visiting a developer’s interpretation of a place…
What’s your dream commission?
I welcome any commission! I have heard stories about artists’ egos and the butting of heads between creative vision and client wishes, and I can’t relate. My goal is always to make sure the client is happy with the piece, and – to the best of my ability- I will deliver what they ask for, if there is specific direction given. Whether it’s a strength or a flaw, I find it easy to ‘check my ego at the door’…
Do you have a fave hostess gift to give?
I try to not be too social, and my wife is generally in charge of the calendar, but, I would say you can’t go wrong with fresh cut flowers in a vase (or uniquely shaped recycled glass jar) and a bottle of wine (I prefer white). If I know the host well and know there is an interest, I might bring a plant for the garden; I have many favorites, from my landscape architecture work.
I am not sure I have one, but I would say that Ralph Lauren has captured & defined an American style that I am most likely to consistently gravitate toward.
Most treasured possession?
I’m trying to learn to be less attached to ‘things’; too easily lost or broken, and they don’t matter much, in the end! I grew up with a healthy respect for nice things, and I learned how to take care of them, but I’m also learning that the flip side is that they can really weigh you down. The most treasured things in my house are valued as much- or more- for the memories they recall. The love and respect of my family is my most treasured possession.
What are you reading?
I just finished Boys In The Boat. The wholesome goodness of the American team, in contrast with the rise of Hitler, was really powerful. I loved that the crew’s ability to triumph was only through their interdependence and trust of one another.
I tend toward more ‘mellow’ music, especially when painting. Some favorites include Elbow, Ray Lamontagne, Angelo De Augustine, etc. And I never miss Madelaine Brand’s press Play on KCRW; it’s my favorite ‘talk show’.