Sheer Drop – Mountain Goats
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48” x 36”, oil, 1980
The idea of this picture began as a pure abstraction. I was probably inspired by an impressive show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of the giant, non-objective paintings by Clyfford Still. These consist of great streaks and masses of colour. In "Sheer Drop", the slashing white line and the two white blobs have a life of their own, regardless of the subject. There is an expression of instability and massiveness. This would describe the world of the mountain goat.

Of all the American mammals, the world of the mountain goat is the most rarified and precipitous, and yet he negotiates it with the nonchalant ease of a stroll in the park. I would be in a state of sheer terror if I was in their position, but the goats' bland expressions are compatible with their confidence.

They are not a true goat, but are in a special family part way to the antelopes. They also have a unique build. To me, their movements are reminiscent of the strut of a baboon. In addition to creating the texture of the rock, I was very absorbed by portraying the textures of their fur.