“What’s going on behind that dog?”

“Why isn’t that fox in the woods or something?”

“What does a goat have to do with polka dots?”

I get this kind of question quite a bit.  The heart of it – the thing most people wonder – is why I don’t paint traditional backgrounds.

There are few good answers to that question.  I’ll try to put them in order of importance to me:

  1. I’m not interested in painting traditional backgrounds.  (That should be enough right there, but I’ll go ahead and fill you in on some other legit reasons, assuming that you really want to know.)
  2. I want my paintings to stand out – to be different – to be recognizable as mine.  That’s pretty tough to do at this point in history when every possible style of painting that could ever be painted has probably already been painted in one form or another. 
  3. I love, love, love pattern.  I also love, love, love abstracts.  I also love, love, love animals.  Coincidence that my paintings include these elements?  I think not.
  4. I want my paintings to resonate with the people who look at them. I want them to know how I felt when I looked at that animal.  My compositions are designed to communicate that feeling.  I hope that they feel it too.
  5. A lot of people don’t ever engage with fine art in their day to day lives.  They live with blank walls and don’t really ever think about it.  For some reason the juxtaposition of my representational animals with my non-sensical and seemingly unrelated backgrounds tend to grab the attention of some of those folks.  They stop and stare – if only at first to ask one of those questions, above.  Before you know it they’re talking to me about painting and thinking about how some color like that would be nice in their living room… and suddenly they’ve become engaged with the idea of art.  And to me, that’s a very cool thing!
  6. It makes me stupidly joyful to paint this way.  And somehow, happily, it sometimes seems to spark some joy in other people as well.  Often people express to me that they like my paintings specifically because of the backgrounds – because they are colorful – because they communicate differently.  This is my favorite reason of all. 

And luckily, for all of those those folks who don’t care to see a cat in front of a seemingly random selection of swirls, there are thousands of other artists who paint animals beautifully in their normal environments.  Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone.