I tend to like to paint and leave the marks of the brush or pallet knife, whatever the case may be, showing on the canvas. There is something about it that has always appealed to me ever since I was a Little kid.
To stand back and look at a painting and be knocked over by its realism….. then to walk up and see the evidence of the brush and little dabs of paint all over the place. Take a few steps backwards and again be hit by the image, and yet up close it’s a mess of paint dabs…. nothing more, a great big illusion. I want there to be a threshold that once you cross it and come close to the painting it is an abstract field of color. Then step back and it’s a believable image of some sort.
When I am unsure of myself, I’ll get tight and try to control the paint too much. But if I am touched by a subject, I let it rip and most times the picture paints itself. I just seem to be along for the ride, like someone else is doing the work and I am just an observer. That’s what keeps me painting, those magic moments….
Then sometimes, it takes a lot of work and calculating, sweat and tears to get a painting to work out well….. like the title of the old movie, “the Agony and the Ecstasy” seems to fit pretty well. You never know.
As for “Upstate”, it’s a subject that I’ve been painting for years. I always thought I was just painting old barns and fields. But as it turns out, I’ve been documenting the demise of the family farm. So many of the scenes that I’ve painted over the years aren’t there anymore. The barns and houses have fallen down and the fields are now overgrown and the overviews have disappeared! The herds of cows are as rare as hen’s teeth. I remember at the age of 10 having to carry a newborn calf, still wet from birth, across the field to the barn, in the painting “Ground Fog”, the mother cow following along, licking her newborn as we walked. Somehow that connects you to the land.
Upstate isn’t a place—-it’s a state of mind.