Each summer I go as far into the wilderness as I can to paint and to store up memories. I go to the North Slope of the Brooks Mountain Range in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There is little vegetation more than ankle high and the marks of humanity are insignificant. I can see the power and process of nature here, the flow of vegetation, the weathering of the bones of the earth, thrust upward by powerful forces and fiercely attacked by an unforgiving weather. The mountain weather is fascinating, dramatic and endlessly surprising. I paint large oils during my brief stay in the wilderness, working as hard and well as I can, feverishly chasing fugitive light and fleeting weather
The Alaskan summer is brief. It is the only practical time to paint outside. During the rest of the year I work in the studio or the computer lab on art that describes my inner landscape. I rely on my memories of my wilderness painting to keep me focused and honest. When I lzigital terrain, using the principles of geomorphology. Then I will create the skin of vegetation by using a biological model that predicts plant species based on digital elevation and a calculation of available solar energy. I am using standard entertainment industry software to animate the virtual camera and render the images to video. Someday I would like to do this with the surface and bones of a moving human figure, or by capturing human motion and applying it to virtual plate tectonics.
During my annual trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1994 I had two dreams about the figurative character of landscape. In one dream, I saw the gravel patches on the sides of steep hillsides (caused by the thin skin of vegetation sliding downhill) as if they were bird or human spirits. I wondered in my dream that the mountains could stay fixed to the earth against the pull of such powerful wings. Then I saw the shapes s l o w l y pull off the ground, tearing free and springing finally to the sky and away. In my other dream, I saw that the land was alive and dynamic like a moving, breathing human dancer. While still dreaming, the thought came to me to pose models as if they were mountains and valleys. Later that summer I camped in the Mount Prindle area in the White Mountains about 70 mile north of Fairbanks. This area has enormous granite tors. Their sensuous, curved volumes speak to me of the figures and the struggle between the bones of the earth and the fierce power of the weather. During the following winter I posed a couple of models so they took on the aspect of the Prindle tors and valley exactly as had I dreamed of in ANWR. I did Figured Mountains and a major woodcut print based on those drawings.