top of page

Deep Time: Painting is an Out-of-Body Experience

Here's what I've been working on for the past couple of weeks:

I'd been doing a few scenes that act as a prelude to this moment--very peaceful and picturesque. This vision of nature falls to pieces with this one painting, which represents my little hero watching one of his siblings being eaten by a little proto-rodent called a cynodont while his mother fights off the rest of the little predators. His father swoops to the rescue from above.

When I think about my paintings before I paint them--when I conceive the scene as a mental image--I almost always imagine (or hope) it will look something like this painting by Vanessa Foley:

The lighting has a Baroque tenebrism about it that reminds me of Frans Snyder's eagle in a painting he did with Rubens:

Instead my paintings remind me of cool 1970s cartoons, specifically Watership Down (1978):

I might be painting Jurassic Chinese dinosaurs (and mammaliforms) but I'm always in the end doing a kind of self portrait. Whenever I finish a painting I always feel a sense of the uncanny about it--like I'm looking at a reflection of myself that I simultaneously know is me and is yet completely unfamiliar and somehow surprising. It's the feeling you get when you have an out-of-body experience and see your own body from outside itself [happened to me]. I see things in my style that are inexplicable--because they are so at odds with all the preconceived notions I have of what I'm about, what I'm supposed to do. In the end all the mental preconceptions I can muster mean nothing to the hand that wields the brush and makes its own decisions based on some mysterious quintessence that defines my visuality. The sketchiness of it startles me, as do the lurid colors and the line-driven elements that mitigate against any hope of photo-realism. I don't know why I paint like this. It's unconscious. Maybe that's what's driving the cartoonish elements that seem to echo from the deep past of my childhood. What's running the show is what's deep down below. I see it here in this painting, like all of them, through a glass darkly--not what I thought would be there but what is there--undeniable, primal, mysterious me.


Sep 30, 2022

I really like this painting, but i think what makes it so great is the three types of reactions of the young birds. One (middle) looks scared, and distressed at the situation and sad that the sibling is getting eaten. The other (right) looks on that same situation with no remorse whatsoever. And the one on the left seems to not pay any attention the the dying sibling or the reactions of the others, but rather looking at his own problems (the other animal about to attack from above) and possibly hoping that the father will save him from his fate. Great painting.


Glynnis Procter Rea
Glynnis Procter Rea
Apr 13, 2022

Your painting illustrates how life is to me. Not much innocence there, things coming from all directions. Even the bird protecting his young is vicious. Great painting.

Apr 18, 2022
Replying to

Thanks Glynnis. I didn't think about her (the mother) being vicious (just saw her as being protective) but you're right--she's just as vicious as the other creatures because she has to be. This painting comes at the end of a sequence of tranquil, idyllic nature scenes. I want to show that this world combines beauty and terror and you can't seem to extricate them from each other--at least in the natural world.

Recent Posts
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page