Art has the potential for a mysterious power—maybe it’s magic—to spark a connection, or sense of wonder, and to transport the viewer into another world.

One of my strongest artistic influences is a glow-in-the-dark calendar on the wall above my bed in childhood (’77, not yet 6, just before the tidal wave of Star Wars). Staring up at night, I dreamed of climbing inside and getting lost.

When I make an image, I’m not really thinking about formal concerns of composition or surface or form—I’m looking to create that place. A space filled with light and air and, if possible, presence.

But if a work is to have a shot at that alchemical resonance, it needs good bones—even in the most ethereal de Koonings we see inspired draftsmanship and dedication to craft.

That combination is the hallmark of my artistic heroes: Rembrandt. Velazquez. Caravaggio. Van Gogh. Klimt. The Wyeths. Russell Chatham. Frida Kahlo. Ansel Adams. Andrei Tarkovsky. Andy Goldsworthy. Barry Lopez. Rick Bass. James Turrell. Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois.

They, beyond the beauty of the natural world, are why I paint and where I find inspiration.