Influences:

In the beginning, of course, were the dreams and visions I had no words to express, which led me to make pictures. Enrichment from external sources was absorbed as soon as I learned to read. Very early influences include the lush and amazing illustration in childrens’ books of the late 60s and early 70s-- such as the work of Leo and Diane Dillon, who illustrated many of the most fantastical of the stories included in the Silver Burdett Reading series. I came from an academic family with unusually high verbal skills, so saturation in literature came fast and deep. To this day I think of myself as a “writerly” painter, because my art always alludes in some way to story, myth, or a transcendent context for the ennobled human being.

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And this is what attracted me most to particular stories: I never cared for mere realism, since one could see that anywhere, and far too much of it besides. Nor did I care for conventional “boy” stories, which always emphasized mechanics and competition at the expense of interiority and nuance. In reading faery tales, I never identified with the hero or his/her sidekick the way I was “supposed” to-- it was their faerie guardian or angelic helper or radiant friend/enemy from the Otherworld that held me fast. To this day I recall a miraculous allegory in cartoon form that I believe appeared in an old issue of Ranger Rick magazine-- about a king who “interviewed” various forms of power sources to see who should rule the kingdom with him. In graphic detail, Coal, Oil, Gas, etc. appeared personified to brag about themselves and then to have their flaws exposed. The allegory concluded when a beautiful and radiant woman clothed in gold and alight like the Sun, ascended the king’s throne: Solar Energy.

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My earliest archetypal obsessions revolved around the concordance of Beauty and the Divine Feminine-- thus Ozma of Oz and Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, became intimate interior figures to me. In the repressed and heterosexist culture I grew up in, only “the feminine” was allowed to be beautiful, so I focused almost exclusively on female goddesslike images. It was not until much later that I realized that this exclusivity needed to change, for the benefit of the larger culture as well as myself.

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Later on I delved into my parents’ collection of the Time-Life series of “Great Masters of Art”: my fascination was with mythological images and scenes, paralleling what I was learning about Greco-Roman, and later Egyptian, Norse and Indian mythologies. I was learning about who, or at least of what nature, the supernal personalities I saw in my dreams and sidelong visions were. I used to dream constantly while swinging and looking up to the sky, of sitting with the Olympian Gods in the clouds I saw overhead. And I still have the scrap of paper on which I did an early school assignment (probably 3rd grade)-- all in crayon, an interpretation of a dream I had had about the lunar-white “Stag of Artemis” taking me to a moonlit grove “filled with gods’ names!” (In the dream every area of this garden held the spark of some divinity, names from every culture in the world all mixed together-- as if in breathing the perfume of a particular flower I became imbued with the sense of that particular divinity.) The page is covered with these names....

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My lust for realistic interpretation of the Imaginal was so acute that my early interest in art history began to wane almost as soon as the 19th century (since neither the Pre-Raphaelites or the Symbolist movements were included in this early series) and I never liked any of the “Hit Parade” of 20th century Moderns. I still don’t care for the “big names” but have learned of and appreciate the work of such “minor” figures as Agnes Pelton, etc.

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Obviously comic books influenced me-- my favorites were Dr. Strange (one of the only instances in that pre-Harry Potter period wherein the hero was a magician and not his enemy or sidekick) and the Legion of the Super-Heroes, which not only presented the largest arsenal of varied superpowered persons but also the most diverse and Aquarian confederacy of far-flung alien individuals I had ever seen. It was an early imprint of what a truly evolved and empowered collective could be like. Owing to my unusual knowledge of mythology, I may well have been one of the only kids watching a certain cartoon show that came out briefly when I was 10 or 11 called The Young Sentinels (or The Space Sentinels) who understood the full meaning of the heroes’ names: Thor, Mercury and Astraea (who in Greek mythology was the Goddess of Peace, the last to leave the world during the Great Flood, assigned to the constellation Virgo-- show me another kid who knew that!).

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I still remember my attempt to created my own comic books-- I was fascinated with lamination and tried to duplicate the effect with scotch tape, which left me working so hard on the cover I never finished the interior pages!

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My studies in parapsychology, which started when I was 9, led me to find artworks such as "Is This Not Great Babylon that I Have Built?" This obscure painting by AE (George Russell) depicts a flowerlike soul emerging from a sleeping woman's body to contemplate her. These first encounters with uniquely personal mystic visions-- as art-- have had more lasting influence on me that museumloads of "canonical" art.

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("Art for Art's sake" is largely a valueless concept to me, as it appears to embrace no other influences than the utterly subjective and personal, and is consequently more like masturbation than communication. Of what use would it be, to be an open channel to some kind of inspiration, with nothing to say-- no medicine, insight, or sense of magic to impart? Much contemporary art seems to me a pipeline to the merely and trivially personal on the part of the artist. My sensibility as a perceiver draws me to crave a deeper language of sensate images.)

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In my teen years I encountered fantasy art, the Pre-Raphaelites, Louis Tiffany and the Art Nouveau period and Symbolism, not to mention small forays into the “men’s club” of Surrealism (it has turned out that the female Surrealists, like Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington, fascinate me more).To some extent I appreciated the fantasy art of Boris Vallejo (his earlier work) because back in his day nobody had technique like his. Encountering Gustave Moreau for the first time brought me even closer to a sense of true kinship; I felt at last I was finding people who created art in the same spirit as myself.

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Learning that there was such a thing as “visionary art” through discovering (often by accident or between the cracks) such artists as Ethel le Rossignol, Mati Klarwein, Gilbert Williams, Vali Myers, Sidney Sime, etc. brought me even further out from a sense of freakish solitude into a sense of community. When I was growing up, the kind of work I was driven by my deepest nature to do was so outlandish and so disregarded by the environment I was in that I learned to keep it as secret as I could, to protect it. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I began to show it in earnest. And I could never have guessed the kind of reception it would find in the world today.

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In college I began to make an active effort to expand my inner sensibility by studying and incorporating artistic/spiritual styles from many different cultures, most notably Asian art: Moghul images, Tibetan Thangkas, and so forth. Exposure to psychedelics and “entheogens” obviously left a mark as well. But after graduation I continued to work to expand the boundaries of my inner eye: gathering books for instance of artists just beyond my range such as Frida Kahlo and Gauguin, so that I could taste where their work and style was coming from.

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One of my most important epiphanies about indigenous art came from a book on Aboriginal art: the frontispiece showed nothing but a dark and wrinkled hand, presumeably the artist’s, lightly touching an Aboriginal painting done in undulating dots: I suddenly got it: these were energy paintings! Ever after I searched for more primal and transcultural ways to relate to these styles: Huichol, shamanic arts. The more I learned the more I realized how to learn; that the arts I had the most affinity for and that could teach me something, came from the same current of relating to the world in its invisible, energetic, and more than ego-based aspect: the universe not as a stage for the ego, and the world not simply its tool and plunder, but an infinite diversion of living beings, a “great story.”

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Perhaps the ongoing journey between the two hemispheres of my own brain in absorbing Images and Music and Stories, then studying philosophy and discourse relating to expeditions "behind the veil" of ordinary reality, has shaped my approach to my themes and subjects. I find the greatest meaning in my art as a marriage of content as consciousness (understanding) and content as transmission from the nonrational and often surprising Undermind. I see my work as ongoing dispatches from a miraculous theater of myth and meaning, out there, in the Otherworld. What will happen afterwards, in the world we know?