Long ago, my grandmother told me about Grandpa Hethorn, English sea captain of the great tall ship “Abyssinia.” Her eyes sparkled as she spun tales of her father’s journeys around South Africa to Mombasa. Her stories transported me across the Indian Ocean by way of the Seychelles and the Maldives on a beautiful ship carrying unusual cargo and passengers. Then, we sailed onto Penang, Singapore, and Vietnam. I would follow the travels with my index finger on a map in her tattered atlas.

The spell my grandmother cast on me back then worked its magic: there’s nothing more thrilling to me than a new port, especially when the arrival is by ship. Two years ago, I boarded a small ship in Cape Town bound for Singapore. I felt that this voyage was an homage to my past, to antiquity. When we encountered a Category 5 hurricane off the coast of Madagascar, I considered disembarking in Mombasa! But I stayed, followed by weeks of adventures.

Much of my recent work is a result of a rare opportunity to revisit a lifelong longing—to sail across the Indian Ocean, and to attempt to capture images at this point in time. Now, for years, water has been an aesthetic lure. I have been drawn to observing constantly changing light and color on moving bodies of water and then to orchestrate these observations onto a surface with oil paint. I enjoy a mirror-like surface that is reflective and color rich, and I use gesture combined with glazes to build an all-over surface. A fixation is mixing color and experimenting with new color combinations as well as paint handling. I employ formal elements, such as horizon lines, ripples, waves, and points of land, which create literal associations.

As I become removed from observing and drawing images, I rely on memory and feelings regarding these forms. This suits my interest and attitude toward drawing and painting—expressing color, image, and feelings without being pictorially specific in my mind or on the surface. Distance in time allows me to emphasize gesture over depiction, to create a personal memory, to challenge the mind.

I am a painter, photographer, writer, and travel professional. I received my BA from Mary Baldwin University and my MFA in Painting and Drawing from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, I worked for over thirty years as a travel planner for universities and museums and have traveled to more than 130 countries. My travels have provided me with rich and diverse images that have influenced my life as well as my painting.

My work is included in numerous corporate and private collections.

©2024 Dixie Epes Hoggan