Friday, November 9, 2007


NYC Blue pencil-watercolor mid 80's

On a previous post I wrote about looking back at a body of old work. It began a process that seems to have taken on a life of its own. What began as an effort to find some "busy work" to do has become a serious endeavor.

Washington St. pen-ink-markers 1978

In the beginning, the late 70's and well into the 80's, my interest, no, my fascination, was with the urban environment. I loved painting the shops and markets in the older sections of Wilmington Delaware. The textures, colors, and the history of those places pulled me to them. As I aquired more facility with the medium, my interests expanded, as did the scope of the work, steet scenes and skylines began to replace the single store front or corner store. Architecture itself became a focus of a lot of my work. I found my inspiration in Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, as well as other smaller cities and towns.
In 1985, after almost 20 years of living in the city, I moved to a small farm in nearby Maryland. Soon afterwards this new environment began to insert itself into my art. Even as I continued to paint the city, rural landscapes and barns began showing up on my drawing tables and for the next decade I painted both the urban and rural environments.

I’ve been fascintated by this experience, seeing so many of these old paintings in one concentrated dose. (I have scanned about 40 slides over the past several days.) My reaction to them has been mixed. Although they all show a fairly basic level of technical facility, there are some pieces that appear overtly simple and somewhat crude, there are others that I find pleasing and capable of withstanding the test of time. To be sure, they are all naive and perhaps even primative, but it is precisely this freshness that supports them.

Over the years my work has evolved in style, subject, and media and I am pleased with these changes. But, looking back, I find myself wondering, does all of this :growth” represent progress? Have I lost something along the way? Specifically, have a lost the feshness and enthusiasm that motivated me over 20 years ago?

Perhaps this is just one more issue to throw onto the pile of issues which artists must deal with.


Villager said...

I love the "Blues in the Night" painting. It is my favorite theme...urban landscapes and arquitecture. Besides, I'm also a blues fan...keep these coming!

Nancy Standlee said...

Hi, William,
Thanks for your comment on my blog and here you have kept your older work. How wonderful to review. Mine were never that good. Love your pen and inks. You might want to check out to share your drawing skills. I met her on line and she gives challenges each week. If you join, tell her I sent you. ns