When I was very young, my elderly, widowed neighbor used to invite me into her house for tea. This was back when kids could roam the woods all day without parental supervision and occasionally wander into an old lady's house. Although hers was a modest little place, she had a fine old oil painting in a massive gold frame hanging over her couch. The picture seemed more valuable than the entire house. It depicted waves crashing onto a rocky shore on a stormy night. What really fascinated me was the fact that a certain weather-beaten boulder in the foreground looked to me like a vicious dog’s head. It gave me the feeling that there must be something dark and unknown lurking beneath the surface of that picture. About the same time, the one painting hanging in my parents’ home was of white roses on black velvet. I found it almost as exciting as the seascape because those roses also looked like snarling dogs’ heads. As a kid, I was never quite certain if the dogs’ heads in either painting were really there or if I'd only imagined them. Before long, that painting started infecting my daily life, and I was seeing growling dogs' heads in trees, clouds, rocks, and floorboards. I am still drawn to that sort of haunting, enigmatic image. That is probably the genesis of the mystery paintings.
A mystery is a mystery only as long as it is unsolved. These paintings present mysteries not to be solved or understood but to be contemplated. They are meant to be ambiguous, elusive, and indecipherable. Rather than try to communicate with their audience, these pictures invite the solitary viewer to explore and to imagine.
The sources of my imagery are hazy memories, half-forgotten dreams, dusty old books, and seldom seen black-and-white movies. Their ancestors are the poetry of Lautreamont, Baudelaire, and Poe and, of course, that snarling dog's head I may or may not have seen in the old widow's painting.
Visual Art Studio in Richmond, Virginia has a number of these paintings in inventory. Learn more or buy them online here.