The wonderful thing about landscape is that it surrounds you, bombarding not just your eyes, but your skin, your ears and your nose. I used to paint landscapes only during the summer – scenic views, often, when in Maine, from a small boat. The rest of the year I pursued human subjects – groups of masked party-goers, refugees; then I turned to animals: a riff on the Etruscan Wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, followed by a lot of dog paintings.
When I took up landscape painting full time, I was no longer interested in capturing scenic views. I wanted to invigorate my painting process, to wake up my senses.
I was attracted to locations that I think of as confrontational (often without any horizon or sky) and seemingly involved in some kind of drama enacted by the forces of nature.
In addition to small on-site studies, I used photographs. I use photos with some trepidation because they have a way of flattening shadows, as well as dulling edges, color and light. But I like to think that I can exploit this innate poverty of my photographic images, by using it as a spur to explore the expressive possibilities of the paint marks themselves.
In my latest work, based on the Mill River disaster of 1874, I am pursuing the same themes of confrontation and drama in nature, while commenting on human greed and error.