SAM THE BUTCHER contemporary art
Artist Statement


Elizabeth Gorek Photo




I am an eclectic painter, enjoying a wide variety of subjects. Small realistic portraits satisfy me for a while but then I find myself yearning to make something big and abstract.

I began as an ardent plein air painter. During these years I developed my skills and enjoyed being able to express my deep love of nature in a way that satisfied me. Then came a spate of very bad weather - it rained for months. I started looking through my photos to see what I might use and came upon a photo of a wild stallion that I had taken in the Camargue Region in the south of France. With much trepidation I began the project. I concentrated on the patterns of darks and lights instead of on a living being. I was stunned when this beautiful creature emerged in front of me. No exaggeration, I was shocked - and hooked.

My farm animal portraits reflect my empathy and sensual appreciation of my subject's dignity and individuality. After traveling widely to photograph them in their environments I paint them in my studio. These paintings show how I value the connection between humans and animals and the pleasure I take in the exploration of this theme in painting. Recently I began accepting commissions for portraits of clients' pets – especially dogs and horses.

Finally, in 2007 I was drawn to painting abstractions. Because of this the quality of my painting experience changed. With my intellect becoming less involved, I experienced a new confidence and feelings of freedom.

A strong emphatic personal take on color connects all that I do. And interestingly, this is the one thing about my art and craft that I did not have to learn from others. All of my paintings are oil, made to archival standard.

I was born in New Jersey. Soon after my father was transferred to the Los Angeles area where I attended Encino Elementary School and then Birmingham High. My childhood was taken up mainly with getting good grades – I had no art classes and don't remember any being offered. There was no consciousness of art in my family. Life began for me when I was accepted at UC Berkeley where I earned a BA, MA and PhD (abd) in Philosophy. In graduate school while folk-dancing at International House I met my Italian husband, and my life of art and culture began. Franco became an architect, but his true love was painting. We traveled all over Italy, inch-by-inch with the Michelin Red Guide (in Italian only) as our tour director. I sat for days while he read to me – translating as he went. I especially remember the paintings in Venice and have been back to see them many times since – particularly the Titians.

I had hoped to become a professor of philosophy, but along the way financial pressures led me to a temp job as a typist in San Francisco. Twenty-five years later I found myself with a successful career as a strategic planner in the financial services industry. But at some point I came to realize that my career had consumed me, body and soul. I thought if I stayed even another month I would somehow vanish. I had no idea what would be next but I was certain it was time to move on. At this point in my life I had had not a single art course nor held a drawing implement. But I had friends who were painters, and one in particular who I admired - especially his ability to express himself morally and politically in paint. I decided I would become a painter too. This was in the mid-1990's.