My Goals as a Painter
The best way to describe what I am trying to accomplish is to go back to my artistic endeavors when I was an architectural artist, bending to the will of the client, producing a drawing of the building that is complete in every little detail, every little mullion, every small sharp shadow. You have freedom as far as color, but every detail is tight and precise.
After you do something like this for thirty years, it is difficult to say, “Well, now I am going to be a very loose artist.” A good example is Norman Rockwell. His museum in Massachusetts has a few samples of his oil paintings not done for magazines. They were quite poor by comparison because his skill as an illustrator far surpassed his skill as a fine artist. It’s much the same with any artist who starts in one endeavor and then attempts to be something he has not been up to this point. I think that describes pretty well what I was trying to accomplish. Learning is not difficult, but unlearning is very, very difficult. I have been going through a process of trial and error–painting, reading, talking to others–trying to find out who I am as an artist. That is really all that any of us have–who am I? I did not want to paint like others; I wanted to paint like myself. The only problem is, I don¹t know who I am. But now through all this trial and tribulation, I am getting to the point where I am getting more and more comfortable all the time with those things that I have been trying to accomplish. It hasn’t been just the lighting or any one facet of painting, but putting it all together so that when someone looks at a painting, they say, “Now that’s a classy piece of work, the pigments have been done beautifully, the color is wonderful; everything about it is just outstanding.” Now I am beginning to feel comfortable in the fact that I know what I am trying to accomplish. Now my concentration is on getting people to say when pick up a painting, “Whoa, this guy really knows what he is doing.” That’s what I’m after. I love the mountains, I love the detail of the mountains, the little creeks and all the rocks. What I want to be able to do is turn around and illustrate the detail I see–all those shadows and branches–but do it loosely, some people say painterly, fashion, maybe that’s the term I am looking for. Elk Country (above) Elk Country, 22″ x 28″ and a detail from the tree in the center of the painting (below). Detail- Elk Country I am beginning to feel so excited about my work. I followed one alley for a while, and then learned how dumb I was. You bounce around, but I feel very comfortable with this. It is like I have been in the shoe store, and I have put on all these shoes that feel nice at first, but then begin to pinch your toes. Now I don’t feel like that; I feel very comfortable with this pair of shoes. I’ll be here with my style of painting for a long time, because there is a lot of perfection I have to learn in this vein, lots to learn. Who was it–Matisse–who passed away at age 90, and on his deathbed said, “I am finally beginning to understand.” Who knows, maybe. I hope I get there. People say, “You’re lucky because you are talented.” I don’t know about the talent business, but I do know this: that I am a very privileged person because at my age I am still learning and growing every day and so excited to get back to the studio tomorrow. Not many people can say that. I have had several shows in New York City. Two years ago at the Salmagundi Club on Fifth Avenue I received the A. E. Labontis Klue Award for best atmospheric effect. We went back for the presentation. It was nice to be known more on a national basis. It doesn’t matter how many galleries you have. What you have to do is perfect yourself to the point that your work is recognized to be outstanding. Without that it doesn’t matter. You must turn the corner somehow to get that recognition from collectors and dealers that say, “This is an outstanding artist.” And this is my goal.