For as long as I can remember, I have had an affinity for birds, their colors, habits, and the myriad shapes and sizes. I started drawing birds at 4 or 5 and never stopped. I love painting and the idea of painting as a puzzle you put together on a flat surface in two dimensions.

One of my earliest memories regarding this love of birds was receiving a used bird book as a birthday present. I was fascinated by how they were organized into families and types. From this, I began listing all the birds I would see when my family went on trips. Or I would choose a family of birds and list all the subspecies.

In grad school, I embarked upon the study and discovery of every artist I could find. Trying to find my "voice," I experimented with the subject matter, medium and style, trying to determine what a real artist was. While digging into what constitutes "art," I began exploring a minimalist approach:

Single colors, sample compositions

Delving into the surface and space

The perfect height for viewing

Pattern and structure, even Islamic pattern and its numerology and grids as a construction method

I found all of this informative, but I couldn't move forward with the artwork. I pushed this for a few years but eventually realized it felt forced.

While painting on a wall in a kitchen, I had a breakthrough. I realized I had hit on something. It started small and then expanded into several compositional ideas. As time passed, I realized that I had come full circle and returned to my first love, "the birds."

First, I focused on voicing concern for the deterioration of the environment and its effect on my subjects. It has since transformed into an exploration of what drew me to birds in the first place. My latest series reflects my fondness for their beauty and the world they inhabit.

I live on a few acres on the south fork of the Sangamon River in Illinois and have become a steward. I am restoring habitat, removing invasive plant species, and having a burn schedule that allows the existing native plants to flourish. By doing this, I have become aware of another calendar, in which you count by a bird's arrival and departure.

In living among the plants and animals, the weather and geology, the river biology, and insects that use the river as part of their life cycle, I have become obsessed with the ecosystem.

I live in a shallow part of the river where coyotes, deer, and turkeys regularly cross, giving me an intimate look into the natural world around me. As I have been more involved with their habitat, I see the interrelationships of the birds with the plants, trees, and insects. I try to capture this in my paintings with fanciful plants native to the region and season. In my previous images, the plants were once symbols of human's encroachment on the landscape and their effect on my birds. I have more recently chosen instead to focus on the plants as comfort and nourishment to the birds reflecting the celebration of life that occurs all around them.

I keep a listing of when birds first arrive and when they move on, also high counts and rare arrivals. I can identify the birds by their calls, so I feel I am in time with them. I have become inspired to paint certain birds every spring, especially when they are of particular interest, i.e., "my favorites."

The woodcock is a favorite; he arrives in March, and you can hear him performing his elaborate courtship flight in the fields across the river for several weeks. Another favorite is the cat-like call of the secretive yellow-bellied sapsucker, which is only here in April and September. My paintings are documents of my experience on the river and how these encounters have affected me.

Awards and Scholarships

Illinois State Fair Professional Art Exhibit
– 3rd Place (Painting)2016
University of Illinois at Springfield Alumni
– Best of Show1999
"On Your Own Time" State Employees Art Show
– Best of Show1987
Illinois Association of Community Agencies
– Scholarship1985 - 1986
Springfield College in Illinois
– Scholarship1983


Southern Illinois University Carbondale
– Master of Fine Art 1988 - 1991
Sangamon State University
– Bachelor of Fine Arts 1985 - 1987
Springfield College in Illinois
– Associate of Arts 1982 - 1984

Work Experience

Lincoln Land Community College
– Instructor 2004
Springfield Art Association
– Instructor 2003
Black Moon Tattoos
– Owner 1992 - Present
Springfield College in Illinois
– Student Teacher 1991
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
– Installations Assistant 1987 - 1991
Illinois State Museum
– Installations Assistant 1985 - 1987