I first went snorkelling in the Indian Ocean, at the Mombasa Beach Club in Kenya in 1970. Floating in the crystal clear warm water and watching the fish and other sea creatures in their own private liquid universe were mesmerizing for me. I became PADI certified in 1981 and later discovered live-aboard dive boats, where one does nothing but DIVE, eat and sleep and dive again, for weeks at a time. I began to visit the most remote sites in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans to see the amazing underwater world which stretches over most of our planet!
Being a sculptor, painter, and avid photographer, visions of the ocean began to enter my work. In order to capture the images, I studied underwater photography with world-renowned photographer Cathy Church in Grand Cayman. I then reproduced my images back in my former Santa Monica and Sausalito studios and used them as the basis for my recent oil canvases. Many marine paintings I had seen previously looked illustrative, and I sought to use a more expressionist style and rich textures to bring my underwater scenes to life. In December 2003 I participated in Sausalito’s Artwalk exhibiting to a packed house at Caledonia Design (now Sausalito Art Source).
When creating the painting I use as my logo, for example, I began with a slide of squirrelfish shot in Grand Cayman with a Nikonos V camera and Sea and Sea YS-120 strobe on Fuji Velvia film. Working from a print of the image I then painted a large oil canvas, emphasizing the myriad of colors in the fins and the striking vermillion body of the fish.
Every dive site I visit yields unusual material for painting. I went to the Solomon Islands in 2003, famous for tiny creatures (Pygmy seahorse, nudibranchs, and dragonets) as well as large, gorgeous walls covered with lush soft corals. I also dived the SS President Coolidge in Santo Vanuatu, a mecca for wreck enthusiasts the world over. My painting of the Unicorn and the Lady provides a rare glimpse inside the salon of the ship at 150 foot depth with its dazzling Medieval based sculpture embedded in the wall.
In October 2004 I set off for Papua New Guinea with Cathy Church and a group of photographers. We saw everything from a Halemani Pygmy seahorse the size of a rice grain to a shark dive where divers were surrounded by white tip and grey reef sharks at play. No cages necessary!
As a change of pace, in fall 2005 I spent 2 weeks at Wakatobi land-based resort in Onemobaa, Sulawesi. Outside my bungalow stretched the ultimate house reef encrusted with golden soft coral and a galaxy of tiny creatures too dazzling to catalogue. I journeyed to the Kingdom of Tonga in July 2006 to free dive with the Humpback whales and their calves in the open ocean off Ha’appai. I returned to produce a PowerPoint presentation for the ocean non-profit Seaflow, which is dedicated to seeking solutions to remedy ocean noise pollution from Navy sonar, seismic air gun blasting for oil and gas exploration, and heavy shipping traffic. I also spent 3 weeks at sea in the Maldive Islands photographing Manta Rays, reef fish, and looking for the elusive whaleshark.
After an extended “shore interval” from summer 2006 to spring 2007, I cruised the Pacific side of Costa Rica , passed a restful week shore diving Bonaire, and revisited Indonesia to explore the diving frontier of Raja Ampats, or The Four Kings, near Papua. The winter season 2008 brought a special birthday trip to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea, and my third visit to the Maldives.