My long-term relationship with Bali continues, as a whole new chapter of my artistic journey opens and flourishes. In 2018, I returned to pastel painting. In my early art career, when I explored two-dimensional art, I found that I was not yet up to the challenge. So, I explored my first love, sculpture, in depth. My hands always knew where to go with sculpture, and it was both effortless and satisfying. However, the Muse had other plans for me and my creative callings have now moved me into pastel painting. After decades of sculpting, I longed to rediscover color. The tropical environment of Bali is infused with it in nature, textiles, and offerings to the Gods. Everywhere I go on the island, color calls out to me.
Pastels are like painting with pure light. Of all the painting mediums, it contains the least amount of binder, which allows the pigments to reflect the highest amount of radiance. As with sculpture, painting invites me to choreograph a dance of light and shadow. However, with sculpture it literally dances across the shapes and forms. With painting, I must create the illusion of this dance through color, contrast and value. For me, the shadows must sing with color and the highlights must have brilliance and luminosity.
As an artist, it’s often a daunting experience to sit before a blank piece of pastel paper at the beginning of a painting. I wait in anticipation of inspiration. I know that if I show up in my studio, the Muse will come. When I open my box of pastels, I drink in their vibrant color, the colors of Bali. There is a sense of an awakening that happens when the first layer of color goes down. Life is being breathed into this inanimate paper. Will the taksu come this time? It is a gift that cannot be forced, only received.
It has been a great honor to be included in the lives of many Balinese over the years. From birth to death, they celebrate life through ceremony. I draw upon my vast archive of the thousands of photographs I’ve taken, to inspire my paintings of the Balinese engaged in their everyday lives and spiritual practices. With a deep sense of respect and love for these people, my paintings are telling stories of the many magical moments I’ve been privileged enough to experience on this island.