Fall usually finds me in the Roaring Fork Valley, in West Central Colorado. Because of this I've become familiar with the community of black bears that live in the area. They come down out of the mountains each fall to bulk up for their winter hibernation. Some falls are rougher for them than others, depending on how much forage they've had in the high country that spring and summer. If it's been a bad year(drought usually, or a late freeze in the spring), then, desperate to fill themselves with enough calories to last them through the rough Colorado winter, they head for the luxurious, million dollar homes that fill the landscape. An open window, an unlocked car, the smell of something cooking in some one's house, a fruit tree loaded with fruit, and that's where they go, using their paws as a human would to open things and start feasting. One late night, as I headed down the highway towards Basalt, a small town in the valley, I spotted what I thought was a human figure, laying in the middle of the road. As I got closer, I realized it was a bear, having come down looking for food, then gotten hit and killed trying to cross the highway. When I finished this piece, and stood back and looked at it, I realized that "Hungry Bear" was an homage to that unfortunate bear.
Part of starting a new body of work is trying to think of ways to make images that are new, not only to me, but to all people that look seriously at art. I've been making images now for almost 40 years, and I find that my main battle is in not letting myself do what I know how to do, what I've become good at and comfortable with. Why would anyone want to do something that's easy, and familiar, that they are skilled at, when they can make themselves extremely anxious by doing what they've never done before?
Since painting is what always guides me, that's my first jump off the cliff: how can I paint in a way that's new to me, or newish, after all these years of painting? With that in mind, I recently discovered how to make clean hard edges with masking tape and polymer medium using colors new to me, purchased at Michael's, where all the serious hobbyists shop. Painting finished, then another precipice to leap off of, this time finding, from my hoard of materials, the right photographs in combination with the right hand-painted papers, along with materials that have no logic to the painting but that somehow work--in this case, a page from an Asian textbook. As well, I used my mother's pinking shears to cut the bangs, beautiful scissors that are probably as old as I am. And finally, after weeks of trying things out, putting different elements together, discarding, then reforming, I have a finished piece that pleases me. It seems new and different, a self portrait of a much younger me, something I didn't realize until I finished writing this piece.