Winter Coat
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18” x 24”, acrylic on board, 1991
Three areas of my artistic philosophy have come together in this painting. For most of my twenties and thirties, I was primarily an abstract painter. During that time, I acquired a taste for large, simple shapes and the use of so-called empty space. Some of the oriental artists and thinkers have shown us that empty space is not simply nothing; it has an important presence. This is probably my primary motive in deciding to do this painting. The large white rectangle pushes against the narrow gray rectangle, and the 'meat' of the painting is sandwiched in between.
I was inspired to leave abstraction for realism by Andrew Wyeth, whose show in 1962 led to a turning point in my art. The particularity in nature was always very important to me, yet I was not using it in my painting because of my abstract style. Wyeth helped to trigger my love of the differences in subject matter and to put it down in paint.
The third area of my philosophy is my concern over the disappearance of so many aspects of our human heritage. The self-reliance of a family farm has been part of humanity for millennia. We might see it all but disappear from North America in our lifetime. We are building an artificial world which even protects us from the seasons. Our ancestors lived by them and thus had the satisfaction of appreciating the variety that nature has to offer. The winter coat on the horse and on the land are part of this precious and eternal cycle.