I have been asked many times why I always work with landscape as a subject and I always respond, how could I not work from nature as it is such a presiding force here? It has dominated my visual memory for as long as forever. It surrounds me with its variety of form and color. It has done so since I was a child. It's there and so overwhelming as to be inescapable - as if one wished to escape. Aside from this dominant force of the natural world, there exists within it a veritable thicket of complex forms and colors to be tested, isolated, remembered.
I'm going to give the smallest, most inadequate, resume of the history of landscape painting. Landscape painting, as I use the term, is a relatively recent development in the field of western - i.e. European art. Pre- and high-renaissance painters used nature as a backdrop for more important activities of man: those of God and Church and power. Owing to a multitude of changes, landscape virtually disencumbered itself from a secondary position and became sui generis, an autonomous subject for painting. Ultimately, it was changed from a secondary position in the chorus to its ascendancy to center stage as in Monet, Pisarro, and others. The step from these French Impressionists to abstraction, from Monet to Picasso and Braque, to Mondrian, Hofmann, Pollock, was the most recent inevitable adventure.
I was fortunate enough to be able to work with Hofmann in his studio in New York City and Provincetown for three years. It was revelatory. We worked from a studio model and also from the natural world, but Hofmann took subject matter to a degree of abstraction which I would not accept for myself. I was too attached to the "look of things" in the world, and yet I did not want to be bound to the tyranny of the objective world. "Verismo" painting has never charmed me - a camera can do it better.
We keep a whole library of images in our minds, images that go back to childhood, come from dreams, a chance glimpse of the Connecticut River at dawn, at high noon. These images can lie dormant for years and then blossom unexpectedly. You can load a paintbrush with cadmium yellow pale, draw your brush over a blank canvas, lay down a stroke of cobalt violet pale and you're off. The painting tells you what to do.
I don't want to give you the impression that I think that painting is doodling, just fooling around. Once you have made the first beginning strokes, gestures, you have only the needs of the painting to guide you. The motions you make will be attendant upon the painting's commands, not objective reality.
I only want to paint. I do passionately believe in the purposes of creativity. This is truly my cri du coeur. Throw the computers out the windows and get a lead pencil and sit down to make a sketch or write a little verse. And begin early with children to teach them to know imaginatively, to create with love.