While I have been painting and drawing for over forty years, I began working with Black Claybords by Ampersand in 2006. That’s when I learned I had cancer. Choosing something beautiful to become absorbed in and concentrating on the details, proved to be the perfect way to deal with my cancer diagnosis. The idea that adversity teaches us to turn the negative into a positive is a great analogy for transforming these black boards into thriving works of art.
My medium of choice begins with a layer of Kaolin Clay, which is used to make Porcelain. Once the clay is adhered to the boards, it is covered in a layer of India Ink.
By varying the pressure in the ink with my simple tool, (it looks like a quill pen), I can elicit a phenomenal amount of detail in the layer of clay.
People often express that they are intimidated by Black Claybords because there is no way to correct a mistake. It does takes a certain amount of artistic courage to approach a medium like this, given the fact that I can’t sketch or erase. I just study my subject and jump right in! It is impossible to miss the spontaneity that defines my art. Unlike drawing on paper or painting on canvas, Black Claybord forces me to think backwards from dark to light.
Getting up close to my subject and paying attention to microscopic details is critical to my process. Dimension is created by layering elements as they appear in nature. The real magic occurs when the viewer stands back to see the whole image and then comes in for a closer look.
Evolution of an Iris is a great example of my creative process. The transition from making my first stroke, to creating values through lines and ultimately painting with colored inks when I choose to add color, demonstrates the amount of thought and talent that goes into creating each piece.
I find the textures, shapes, patterns, and repetition of nature incredibly inspiring. While my artwork appears simple at first glance, upon closer inspection it is filled with such depth and intense detail that it evolves into something compelling and mysterious. As Art Critic Sawyer J. Lahr of Fear No Art wrote, The effect appears pencil drawn but has a living, breathing, sculpturesque dimension emphasized by the black backgrounds, creating a positive and negative space rarely seen in life surrounding florals.