I have been working with color and light literally all my life. My father, a professional portrait artist, had a studio in the house. I learned about additive color combinations from him in reference to Impressionist artwork, and experiments he had done with colored lights. In college I changed my major from Physics to Fine Arts and studied Josef Albers' Interaction of Color. For my thesis project I used projected colored shapes that I cross-faded while live music was improvised by another student. Three years later, in San Francisco, a musician friend mounted a large performance project at Project Artaud, an arts center. He asked if I could make a luminous sculpture. I produced a column 11 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter, with internal illumination controlled by dimmers, to create color-changes in a circle and surround pattern. This equipment evolved over 20 years and became the “chromaccord” performance instrument.
I obtained an MFA from Hoffberger School of Painting in 1981. A few years later I became a Physics teacher at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, where I revived their electronics course. For several years I ran a summer Robotics program that I later taught as a course. These experiences gave me skills that were unusual for artists at the time: they soon became quite useful. By the year 2000, I had become frustrated that color-change patterns and effects that I created with the chromaccord could only be displayed during live performance. About that time, a friend designed a circuit for me to use to automatically fade
LEDs, making color-changes. I was able to modify the circuit as needed, and I made the first series of light paintings. A few years later I began to use a micro-controller, similar to those used in the robotics course, for color-change control.
I live in Baltimore, Maryland, where I continue to paint and make music, but I have narrowed my primary focus to light painting. My methods for programming color-changes are continuing to evolve. In my enthusiasm for using LEDs and electronics in visual art, I sometimes think of Vincent van Gogh's use of the latest technology in pigments, only to have his colors fade in a relatively short time. High quality LEDs and stable electronic circuitry will be important as I continue to develop this art form.