In the beginning – always a good place to start – before the
notion of pursuing art professionally had occurred to me, I began drawing
everything and anything, including people.Photographs in magazines and the ads in medical journals
served as models for my pencil, and occasional pen and ink drawings.It would be several years before
my fascination with architecture and the built environment developed.Once that took hold I abandoned all
other subjects, with the exception ofon the spot drawings during my emergency room years.Serious interest in barns and the rural
landscape came years later.
I would like to share with you some of those early drawings
from the 1970s.
The Violinist pencil
Hair pen and ink
I don't know why I completely abandoned people for places. Maybe this says something about a latent psychological temperament of mine.
First Snow is the 6th painting in this series dominated by the earth colors. It is the smallest in the series, measuring 12x24". The primary colors are Raw Umber and Titanium White, with touches of Red Oxide and Ultramarine Blue.
acrylic 12x24 on gallery wrapped canvas
The top of my head does not extend far above the
ground.At one time it towered
65.5 inches above the bottom of my feet, but that was before age began taking
its toll on my spinal column.I
was always small, and if it weren’t for Raffie Donato I would have been the
shortest kid in my class throughout elementary school.I still remember friends and relatives
telling my parents that I would soon “shoot up” during my pre-adolescent
years.Obviously that did not
happen and I accepted my height – or lack thereof - for what it was.
front row seated from right to left Raffie, Billy....
I don’t think of my self as a short person, (except when I’m
standing too close to a very tall person - then my tendency is to move away and
create some distance between us.) and with the rare exception of having a crush
on a girl who was much taller than me, it has not been an issue.In fact I have found some comfort in
the belief that shorter people tend to be healthier, and live longer than
taller people.I have no idea if
this is true, but I prefer my belief to remain uncontaminated by evidence.
Then we moved to Paducah. Oh the excitement of moving into
our new home.The large open rooms
with 12-foot ceilings and 2 ½ baths were pure delight after living in a small
bungalow with 7 ½ foot ceilings and one small bath - off the kitchen.Our new house was bright and airy and
filled with promises and dreams, and I loved it.I loved it a whole lot…until the first smoke detector began
its incessant beep, telling us the batteries need changing.“Ok”, I thought, I can do this;
unmindful of how my advancing age was affecting my relationship to heights,
which have never been a problem for me.I dragged out our six-foot stepladder. Set it up under the obnoxious
alarm, and began the ascent.Well
you would not believe my surprise when I reached the top, clinging on for dear
life, and discovered that the builders made a mistake.This ceiling was at least 18 feet high,
if not higher, and I was sure that gravity was just a heartbeat away from
pulling me down to that tiled floor below.A lesser man than me would have given up, but being the
tiger that I am, I persevered and actually managed to dismantle the alarm,
change the batteries, and replace it.Needless to say, my unequivocal love for our house became somewhat equivocal
and the first seeds of discontent with my stature were sowed.
I will spare you of my efforts to replace the bulbs in our
can lights recessed in the 18 foot ceiling
I wasn't always a painter of old barns, and I offer as proof this 1984 poster of the pubs of Wilmington Delaware. I'm not sure where the inspiration came from, but once I decided to do it, I proceeded with gusto. Visiting all of those pubs and bars was not easy, but I am not one to shirk from hard work. Much to my great surprise and delight, I sold over 2500 copies of this poster in the years following its release.
Two more canvases added to this series of landscapes dominated by earth tones.
Umber Series #3 Acrylic on Gallery wrapped canvas 16x40"
Umber Series #4 Acrylic on galley wrapped canvas 30x40"
I'm finding it difficult to get good photos that accurately show the hues and values with this palette. I"ve tried with and without lighting, and outdoors in shaded sunlight. The fourth painting has been especially difficult. The reds are lost in the the trees and the foreground. I may need to consult a professional photographer.
Last night we attended
the Paducah Symphony Orchestra’s last concert of the season.I have absolutely no knowledge or
understanding of classical music, which puts me at a disadvantage when it comes
to appreciating the scope and the nuances of the music.But I can appreciate the passion it
evokes in the listener and even more, the passion so clearly obvious in the
musicians and the conductor, especially the conductor.
The musicians were, for
the most part, limited to facial expressions imposed upon them by their
instruments of varying bulk.But
the conductor…his every emotion was betrayed by his body movements, and when
visible, his face.First he stood
very still, and the orchestra was quiet, then his arms began to move gracefully
in purposeful arcs and the music followed.Suddenly the baton, an extension of his right hand began to
bounce and gyrate, pulling his body along with them, and the music kept pace
with every movement.Here
was an artist immersed in his work with such physical and emotional passion,
and I was envious.
I can be engrossed in
my work, sitting or standing; I may walk away momentarily and pace, which I do
quite often.But to be able to
experience the sound and the physicality of my work… that is something
else.The best I can do is to have
music blaring from a CD, Johnny Cash, Luciano Pavarotti, or maybe the
Beatles.OK…I have a confession
to make.On rare occasions when I
am especially moved, I will actually dance (I insist on calling it dance)
around the studio, but not until I have checked to see if Patience, or anyone
else could see me.
That is the difference
between a symphony conductor and a painter.The conductor can let it all hang out in front of his
audience.The painter must be
devious and sneaky.That is my
opinion and I’m sticking to it.