Historically, portraits depict a person not only by representational resemblance, but also by the use of other descriptive tools and props. Clothing, posture, objects, settings, are often used directly or indirectly as codes to evoke class, power, profession, and personality.

My portraits seek to replace traditional codes with a completely new set of attributes that are formed from a system that combines data and chance.


My work employs an invented system to describe people without using their appearance. This system also serves to connect the subjects to one another and unite them in common language. The only physical trait in the paintings is the height of the subject. This makes the portraits scaled to the viewer and serves the purpose of introducing the viewer to the person being portrayed. 


The horizontal graphite lines imitate tree rings, each horizontal band seeks to qualify a year in a person’s life, narrow for a difficult year, wide for what I perceive as a more expansive year. This part of the project I think of as my attempt to “walk in their shoes” after studying the subject’s life story. 


These graphite lines continue onto the wall and connect to the lines extending from the painting next to it.


Color choices are influenced by biographical impressions, often chosen by significant events in the life of the subject. For example, noting the inclement weather in Sweden, Greta Thunberg’s solo protests outside the Swedish parliament during rain and snow of this region must have been difficult both physically and mentally. For her portrait, I used the colors of the coats she wore, blue, yellow and fuschia. 


The forms in the paintings are created through what John Cage referred to as Chance Operation (1), which to me mirrors the reality of appearance. Using chance also mirrors nature and natural processes.


The initial renderings that emerge from the Chance Operation of throwing pigmented water on paper, are the source and basis for their assigned Water Archetype. If Chance was not used in this part of the project, my biases would be present. In this way I also learn something about a person’s nature as well as studying their biography. 


In total, this system produces paintings that use the vocabulary of abstraction, which historically was intended to be a universal language. By utilizing nature based categories, Water Archetypes, instead of the man-made categories we are accustomed to (gender, class, race, nationality, religion), I hope to foster non-hierarchical insights, and groupings that unite and reassess our commonality and connection to our planet.


  1. Chance Operations: John Cage. The Basic principle is to remove one’s own intention from the work and hand that over to the oracle. Intention is always to some extent circumscribed by one’s own tastes and personality, whereas non-intention moves beyond like and dislike and becomes something more resembling an act of nature.