I began painting and drawing for the first time in 2014. My affinity for painting surprised everyone around me not the least of all, me. Today I see each of my paintings as a puzzle to be solved, as a search, at first, for something seen and finally, for something unseen. My understanding of what I do is evolving, dependent, in some ways, on my early life growing up in Little Rock, a strange brew of Catholicism and the South, an odd beginning that has followed me my whole life. I'm a fan of Cormac McCarthy and the worlds he's brought to life, McCarthy, too, spent his teen years in a Catholic high school in the South. I look for light and shadows, contrasts, reflections, an unusual perspective, and mood. I’m in search of a compelling moment in time, somewhere on the street or sidewalk, in a building, or on the highway. I often take dozens of photos and return to the site several times, day and night and in the rain when possible. I paint a cumulative impression of that place based on those varied exposures. The original subject is there more or less in form, the geometries present as an underlying scaffolding, the color heightened, as I attempt to create a unique perspective. Most of my recent paintings only vaguely resemble the original scene. I've been told some of my pieces seem inclined toward surrealism, and always, I remain interested in reflecting on our present time. Expressionism, impressionism, surrealism, and realism are all important to my work. My wife, Jean, has said my work is a realistic expressionism. I use only oil paint, brushes, pencils, and straight edges, never tracings or projections and, I refer back to black and white images of the subject.
I grew up in the South. My parents were Midwesterners, married in San Francisco after WWII. As a part of his job, my dad was transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas where I was born in 1955.
Twelve years of Catholic school were filled with reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, but no art, other than coloring books and “stay between the lines, young man.”
My childhood in the South greatly affected my worldview, shaped particularly by a cross burning across the street from my family's home when I was young. My visual memories are of a black and white world, muted colors, all seen through a prism of hazy humidity. Art of any kind was not something that was ever talked about in my house or neighborhood. The only art I was familiar with, were religious icons. Artists were thought of as strange people far away on the East or West Coast or in Europe. I was in my early twenties when I first visited an art museum as part of an assignment for the one mandatory art appreciation class needed to fulfill college graduation requirements, a class and an instructor I still remember, forty years later.
My past lives include work as a ranch hand in Montana; as an ecologist (on live rabid animals, on mosquito predators in Arkansas rice fields, on pine trees in East Texas), as a necropsy assistant, and conducting water chemistry tests near a nuclear plant; my research on invasive species was awarded a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant. After beginning a PhD at UC Berkeley, my academic life was disrupted when it was discovered that a UC Berkeley prof was embezzling from the grant. The Feds were not happy. I made a major life change and worked as a VISTA volunteer establishing literacy programs in California, including one for refugee women, and then earned my teaching credential from UC Berkeley. I was a teacher for thirteen years in the SF Bay Area and Marin County Teacher of the Year in 1999. I'm in my fourth reinvention, as a painter, a true vocation that I believe fits me better than anything I've ever done. The discovery of painting has changed my life.
I have a BS and an MS in invertebrate biology and ecology and live in San Rafael, California with my wife, Jean Olive-Lammers, and my stepson, Adam Beeler-Lammers. Jean has a degree in art history and Italian and worked as an IT analyst for almost 30 years before returning to the potter's wheel in 2019 with some new, exceptional pieces perhaps hinting at a new beginning for her. Adam graduated from Santa Clara University in 2019 with a degree in computer science, minors in history and math, and who likes Caravaggio. Adam has recently discovered a hidden talent for drawing, something he is now pursuing with interest.
Life does get in the way at times. But through it all, I see myself following the same daily routine as long as I can hold a brush.