I was born in Bangor, Maine in 1958, and began drawing and painting as a youth. My early influences were the seasonal moods of the wild coastline of Maine and the artists in my family and circle of friends. Growing up in a remote location with the absence of television, I reacted to my environment by painting. The ocean and sky were constant sources for observation and expression. I studied art at Colby College and with Maine painters Henry Isaacs, Philip Frey, and Judy Taylor.
My current influences are:Max Ernst, Kathe Kollwitz, Emily Carr, Max Ginsberg, Jim Carrey, Milton Avery,Waldo Pierce, Rockwell Kent and The Group of Seven. My goal as an oil painter is to move away from inanimate subjects that convey the comfort of nature’s beauty and to move towards human subjects that embody life’s tragedies.
I just started my 96th sketchbook. Fifty-eight years ago at RISD, most pages were filled with drawings of classmates, figures or anatomical studies.The images were quite realistic, as I came there self-taught, wanting to be Norman Rockwell.
Once I discovered primitive art, Picasso, de Kooning and other modern masters, I reflected their influence in the later sketchbooks of my growing family,vacations at the Maryland shore, lunchtime crowds in Philly, commuters on the train, etc. I later filled sketchbooks with stylized self-portraits and studies of admired masters or of primitive art, hoping they would influence my work through osmosis.
Figure drawings and portraits have always dominated my sketchbooks and still do, often transitioning from realism to abstraction. I have rarely considered them studies for other work. They are stand-alone pieces of art, with mark making and page design always on my mind.
Recently,after thousands of figure drawings, many of which are 19” x 24” semi-abstracts,I seem to have come full circle in my sketchbooks, back to more-academic figures. I’m not sure why, since my paintings have become almost-totally-improvisational abstractions. Perhaps the long poses each week at Waterfall Arts encourage detailed study – or perhaps it’s just a function of age.
Though from different times and places, it’s easy to draw connections between the entries in sketchbooks and journals, to find ways to understand the effects of our choices, the states of mind we’ve been in. I began keeping a journal in third grade, and have filled many since then, the content including daily accounts, poems,sketches, musings, and letters. They area place where my past selves gather, a place where I can always find inspiration, and trust.
The sketches “Wildfire Smoke in San Francisco” and “Palace of Fine Arts Theatre” were done from 35mm film photographs that I took on a road trip from Washington to Maine. “You are beautiful,” is from two 35mm photos I took while in college, and the words from a letter sent to me by a college friend and mentor. “Between Notebook Pages” is a journal entry that I keep tucked between pages, along with the feather, from Whidbey Island,Washington, where I was living when I wrote the entry. The poem refers to a day on the road trip back east from Washington, driving along the coast.