How do you create the art?
I have steel canvases made to my specifications by a metal fabricator. I create patterns of rust on the steel with a combination of water, acidic elements and acrylic paint. I then react to what’s taking place on the oxidizing steel. I let it set over an indefinite period to rust until it reaches the stage of texture and pattern I like. I then proceed with more colors and applied techniques until it hits a place where I feel the piece is finished.
How long does it take for you to do a piece?
Because I use a variety of techniques, it’s difficult to answer this question. On some pieces, I don’t do preliminary rusting, I just use the raw stage of the canvas and paint. You’ll see this in my video shown on the home page of my website. I rarely use this approach, but it’s done in one continuous flow while it’s wet. I let it dry and the rust begins to affect the color. I seal in the color with a clear coat before the rust eats it all up the color through oxidation. Other pieces will be done in two, three, sometimes four layering stages. Depending on the size of the piece and the technique I use, the range for doing a piece can run from one hour to two weeks’ worth of layering stages and process.
One note about this common question people ask: How long did it take you? Sometimes I respond, “over five decades since I first began drawing and painting.” I say this because you can’t equate hours to the life-experience of the artist. You can’t equate the hours it takes to create a piece of art to determine its worth. The value is found in the eyes of the buyer¬—how they’re impacted or inspired by the art, how it makes them feel emotionally. The value is in the gift of the artist and what the artist represents to the buyer. The value is in the uniqueness of the art, and how it stands out among other artistic works in the same genre.
Will the steel keep rusting after it’s finished?
No. I apply two to three layers of clear coat with hardener, the same product used on automobiles. This seals in the rust and keeps out the air so that the oxidation stops. I also paint the back of the steel canvas with black primer finish to arrest oxidation from both sides.
How can I best display the art in the home?
Spotlight fixtures from the ceiling will make the art and the colors “pop.” When you invest in my originals, there are unique characteristics in the paintings such as glitter. These features are best drawn out by highlighting the image with a spotlight. It truly heightens the experience with the art.
How long have you been doing this type of art?
I’ve been a published artist since 1990, but began my journey toward abstract art on steel in 2011. When my work was featured in the Shain Gallery of Charlotte, the owner referred to me as a “colorist.” Ever since I broke away from decorative, detailed art, the surprise of abstract has been my greatest experience. I love it when people see different things in each piece that others do not—including me.
Do you do commissioned art?
Absolutely! If you live anywhere in the Charlotte area, I’ll come help you select the style and colors to suit the needs of your space. If you’re from another location, we can work together through email or Skype. The average range of price and sizes for originals can be found on the “Commissioned Art” page of my web site.
Can I get reproductions of your art?
Yes. They’re called giclées. My originals are captured by a high-resolution digital camera before going to market. They’re printed onto heat-transfer paper which holds a dye-sublimation ink. This ink has the unique ability to convert from being a solid to a gas without going through a liquid form (like dry ice). After the image is printed out, the paper is laid onto a thin sheet of white-coated steel with a clear coat of poly-resin. The conversion of the image from paper to steel is initiated by a thermal heat press controlled with pressure and time into the special coating that accepts sublimation inks. After the paper is removed and the sheet of steel cools, the high-gloss image is permanently fixed. The steel prints are then fixed to a black aluminum frame 1 ¼ inches thick.
Do you only make giclées on steel?
No. My images can be printed on canvas and stretched over a thick, wooden frame. I use the finest quality of materials through a first-rate vendor. Two satin finishes coat the product with more staples holding the canvas on the frame than most chain-bought canvases.
If your art is reproduced into giclées, won’t that diminish the value of the original?
No. My images aren’t mass produced for Walmarts and Targets. Imagine how many reproductions there have been made of the Mona Lisa or other famous artists. Did those reproductions devalue the original? Abstract art is so individualized to the owner, copies of their original won’t be found in everyone’s home. Besides, no matter how good the copy, no camera can capture the texture, the glitter and the feel of steel that my originals carry.
If I commission you to do a piece of art, can I own exclusive rights to the image and allow no copies to be made?
Yes, but the price for the original increases dramatically to recover the loss of income that would have been received from the potential earned income of the giclées.
Can I hang your originals outside?
Yes. But it’s best to keep it from receiving direct sunlight. My clear coat makes my art weatherproof, but nothing can withstand the sun’s rays forever. In the house, however, it will last indefinitely.