Why I Paint on Glass, 2004

I am at heart a three dimensional artist, and this is the reason I love using glass as my medium. The clear glass transmits images through itself, allowing me to turn an object of surfaces into an object with both surfaces and an interior.
When I began creating glass, I found myself frustrated in my attempts to put specific imagery on the glass using only hot glass techniques. I sought a greater freedom and immediateness than hot techniques alone would allow. Though I had no training as a painter, I began experimenting with the various glass enamels then available. These materials allowed a greater range of expression and freedom to explore more varied imagery, but they still required heating the glass to a temperature above the slumping point and then required subsequent annealing. Since my sculptures were becoming more and more complicated, incorporating many blown parts and protuberances, this made reheating the sculptures impractical. 
As a young boy, I remember spending countless hours assembling plastic models of sailing boats, airplanes, rockets etc. and painting these objects. The paints I used were “Testors” paints and they were extremely vibrant, durable and colorfast. In 1984-85 I decided to experiment with these paints and discovered they were perfectly formulated for using on glass, these first “cold painted” pieces were titled “Mosque or Menos” and “Priestess”. Shortly thereafter a friend named Keith Joe Dick from Los Angeles introduced me to the paints he used as a sign painter. They are called “One Shot” and are used in the sign and automotive painting industry. They are formulated for use on many materials including glass. From that point on, One Shot paints have been my medium of choice for painting on glass.
But why did I need to have this “freedom” to paint on glass? Because I never know what the imagery is going to be until my brush is heading for the glass. For me, painting on glass is a meditation. As the writer E.L. Doctorow has said, “I write from the inside out” so, I too, “Paint from the inside out. One thing I do know however is that I must have absolutely vibrant and brilliant colors for my imagery.
My pieces are three-dimensional narratives that are meant to be “grocked”  (the term Robert Heinlein coined to express complete and immediate understanding) as opposed to “understood”. Unlike a written narrative, where a linear progression of words slowly brings the reader to the story and ultimately to an understanding, my sculptures present an entire narrative experience in a unique and more immediate visual format. To me this is the beauty and allure of painted glass sculpture.
The images and forms I use are archetypal and personal, iconographic and idiosyncratic. This is after all how we experience life, incorporating the largest conception of creation, a god concept, down through the cosmological, into the iconographic, then the identity markers of nationality, religion, gender and finally to the uniquely personal and mundane. Our moment-to-moment experience of being depends on where we place the emphasis on this continuum. One thing is certain, the more our experience feels like awe and incomprehension, the closer we are to the “god” end of the continuum!
I give my pieces titles, mostly because I don’t care for art that’s labeled “untitled”. To me that’s like naming your baby “no-name”. My pieces are corporeal and thus deserve a title. But this title is only a descriptor, not the narrative itself. My pieces are meant to allow each viewer to analyze and experience the pieces for themselves, and to come up with their own “understanding”, to discover their own meanings in each piece.
While I have always loved the process of “glass blowing”, my sculptures had to be about more than just the glass and it’s inherent properties. Painting on glass has allowed me to transform this beautiful and seductive material into narrative sculptures that express the deep inner life that animates all human beings. The glass gives these sculptures form, but the paint gives them meaning. For me this is the most important part of my work.