I became keenly interested in visual doubles and doppelgängers about 40 years ago, when I was a professional fashion photographer in NYC and London. I would direct similar looking women or girls, dressed and posed alike, and everything would be almost the same. When state of symmetry is present but imperfect, with some important parts asymmetrical, the image and narrative becomes more provocative.

I began and plan to continue exploring working with symmetry, asymmetry and doppelgängers in my painting. Doubles often have an acute psychological effect in real life; almost everyone flinches or amusingly startles when encountering identical twins. When I was younger, I imagined several times I found a girl who looked just like me. Joseph Conrad’s classic novel “The Secret Sharer” is the story of adventure, but also an unsettling study of a person’s dual nature and how each person must work out this duality to grow. It is a quest for self, embracing or wrestling for a balance between the coherent and incoherent, the fearful and bold, and the public and private sides of one’s personality.

My artwork features heroines and animal-heroes balancing feelings of foreboding or mystery with a sense of celebration. They have an important mission. The paintings are narrative and surrealistic: animals and girls in dialogue, in collusion, in conflict. The themes can be amusing, but also strange and maybe dangerous. The dark side reflects our society today; our shocking willingness to beat down the vulnerable, while the bright side evokes our chance, shining forth, when time is taken to look more closely. A visual tension between the two generates energy. The images are about the hardest part of the trip; the intersection between potential and conflict. The characters’ mission or goal is intensified by the mystery of doubling.

My process is to double my own photographs, then add images of particular animals as a loose basis for the composition and mood of a painting. The animal-protagonists represent saviors; the essence of spiritual goodness. At one extreme, they can be bravely ferocious, at the other, naturally solid and determined. Like familiars or muses, they are an essential part of the women and children. They ensure a rosier outcome in the narrative, as they are better than people.

Most of the girls and women in my work are brown, blue, or another color other than beige. I feel there is too much beige in the historical canon of figurative painting and I do not need to add to that. I grew up in a multi-racial family and lost my brother, who was Black, too young. Part of my effort as an artist is an attempt to understand my brother’s experience of the world.

Ideally, in the artwork you may see a form of yourself; or perhaps a reminder of consequences of actions played out on the world’s stages. You may think how remarkable it is that children are still playing. I think of the images as parallel universes where peril is present but potential brims.