Ruth – Oil on canvas – 32 x 40 inches.

Let’s say you’re walking down a street and you see a friend on the next corner. She’s too far away for you to see the color of her hair or any features of her face. How do you know, at such a distance, that it’s your friend and not someone else? The short answer is that you’re seeing her gestalt, her overall presence or body language: the way she walks, her height and weight, how she carries herself, the tilt of her head, the swing of her arms, and so forth.

I wanted to paint a portrait of Ruth because she is lovely. But I wanted to suggest more about her than beauty. She was indifferent to glamour, so her choice of an informal, white dress seemed perfect. As a dancer, her physical strength was a large part of her personality. She radiated the intelligence and self-confidence of a young woman living on her own in Spain, making friends, mastering a foreign language. Although she is a very direct and outgoing person, she can often be thoughtful and introspective. She was having to make some major decisions about the path her life was going to take, so I posed her on a threshold, not quite inside, not quite outside.

A portrait has always seemed to me to be more than just an accurate representation of a face. And painting a portrait is not just the work of an artist: it’s an act of collaboration, a partnership between artist and subject. I said that I posed her, but the truth is, by being herself, she posed herself. I paid close attention to her, to her presence. Which is another way of saying that we – together – made the portrait.

Near Oneonta

Near Oneonta – Watercolor – 11 x 17 inches.

It is November and snow will arrive before night falls. I draw the pond and the bleak field as quickly as I can, for as long as my fingers can withstand the wind.

Sometime later on, I don’t remember how long afterwards, in the warmth of my studio, I painted the scene from memory. The sky unfolded into the paper as one of those accidents that can happen when you abandon the urge to control things and just allow watercolor do what it wants to do.

The red canoe was an accident as well. It appeared out of nowhere in my empty mind as a beautiful vessel, broken apart by water, like a heart can break open in sadness, or joy, or in both at the same time.

Rain Street

Rain Street – Monoprint – 10 x 15 inches.

In one of his poems, Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) wrote: “It rains in my heart / As it rains in the town….” The poem was not on my mind when I created this image. Only later, on reflection, a woman walking alone in the rain on a deserted street, perhaps on her way to a cinema on a windy corner, represents the emotion of rain inside of us and outside of us I was intuitively trying to suggest.

People often ask where my images come from. I may reply, “Intuition,” or “Imagination,” but the truth is, I don’t know. A stranger truth: I’m content not to know.