Some tell me I'm crazy for painting in the mountains in the dead of winter, or for battling swarms of biting flies in summer. And yet, there I stand for hours, working, feeling there is no where else I would rather be. I’m energized by the challenges and beauty of nature, by the dynamics of light, atmosphere and temperature in the Rocky Mountains and in the deserts of the southwest. The changes in weather that occur while I’m painting do not bother but thrill me. A storm welling on the horizon, gaining momentum and catching me in its fury fills me with exhilaration. Even the same location can time and again leave me with a sense of awe. Some days I work with great energy, slapping paint with a palette knife, dripping turpentine and then pushing around the thinned paint or letting the drips create patterns of their own. Other days, I’m quieter, and my use of the palette knife is more controlled, as I attempt to honor the integrity of each stroke. I work on instinct more than thought, for instinct holds greater honesty and clarity.

I begin by painting the actual scene before me, but as the painting progresses I delve into the personality of the painting, itself. A three way dialogue forms between the natural scene, the painting, and me. Which one speaks loudest changes from moment to moment, and, if any one becomes dominant for too long, the work can fail. It is the balance between the three that keeps me engaged. My paintings are a direct response to my environment and to my existence in it.




This past June, 2010, I had the privilege of accompanying my good friend Rai Farrelly to Western Tanzania and the village of Mgaraganza where she is orchestrating the construction of a secondary school. Two years ago while spending part of her summer in Mgaraganza helping in the primary schools, the village chief asked if she might help them build a much needed public secondary school. Rai had never taken part in such a project but she believed it was something she could accomplish and dove in with great passion and resolve. I couldn’t help but be inspired by her commitment to such a good hearted and big minded humanitarian endeavor. I decided that I wanted to help, in whatever way I could.

I began by assisting with the fundraising efforts here in Salt Lake. It wasn’t long before I found myself purchasing a ticket to Dar Es Salaam and eventually Kigoma, Tanzania, the town neighboring Mgaraganza. And so come June, we were off.

On our way from Dar Es Salaam to Kigoma we took a detour to Zanzibar, the island just off the coast of Tanzania, where I was compelled to capture the street scenes of Stone Town in watercolor and ink. Stone Town has somewhat of a sad history as it had been for centuries the center of the eastern slave trade. Not until 1897 was the trading of slaves brought to an end due to the influence of the British Empire. Fortunately, other commodities were also traded. Zanzibar’s place as one of the most important trading centers in the Indian Ocean is evident in the fanciful houses of Stone Town. At this point the majority of the buildings lie in disrepair, only now being renovated. And yet, as is usually the case, I found their dilapidated state to be a testament to the passage of time and an asset to their worn beauty. Add the residents of the island passing through the streets in the midst of their daily chores, the women dressed in flowing hijabs, juxtaposed by tourists from worlds far away and we see Stone Town as it exists today.

It would be wonderful to see our detour to Zanzibar come full circle and benefit the village of Mgaraganza through the sale of my watercolors of Stone Town. To that end 10% of the proceeds will be given to Rai’s Project Wezesha and the Amahoro Secondary School. Should all eight watercolors sell the potential gift of $550 will make a handsome donation toward their efforts! To see images of the building progress and read more about the school please visit www.projectwezesha.org. Images and updates are posted regularly.