The focus of my paintings has been the “driftless” country to the west of where I live. I’m strongly attracted to the wooded hills, especially from late fall till green-up. I’m particularly interested in the colors and contours of that landscape. Usually found in the big vistas on the hill tops or looking up and down the valleys. These valleys all have streams, which I’ve always enjoyed and have lately been painting. As I’m mostly painting “plein-air,” the bird life is often part of my day, and they keep working their way into these paintings, as has been the case throughout my painting career.
Lately I’ve come to believe that the relationship between a painter and a particular place may be familiar, even intimate, but a certain process or emotional transaction still must take place.
To paraphrase Andrew Wyeth: “It’s not the subject; it’s what you carry to it that’s important.” What I feel about it, even though the Wisconsin landscape is very beautiful, is that it can be just as trite and ordinary as any other place unless you have something to add to it. Something has to happen to me in the moment, that flash of realization that unlocks past experiences.
These days I find that over and over it is the feeling I get from having spent time in various “landscapes” as a boy and young man. Often a field with my father that moves me to try to portray a place, the weather, the feel of it all.
For me, the place where I was born and raised is the place to paint.