Bellingham, Washington, 1938
California College of Arts and Crafts – 1957-1958
San Francisco Art Institute – 1959
Academy of Fine Arts, Florence, Italy – 1959-1960
A NOTE FROM THE ARTIST
Painting is my life (life blood and life force) – for me an everlasting quest in exploration of the various levels of my consciousness and creativity. My lengthy involvement with the numerous series of works that I paint acts as a touchstone for this creative process. I return time and time again to the same themes. On each occasion, I bring new thoughts, techniques and fresh ideas – seeking a greater perfection of subjects that are centuries old.
Coming from the land of Christmas trees and snowcapped mountains, somehow I felt misplaced. When I found the Mediterranean, an awakening and an epiphany emerged – I was home. I never resonated to the mountain and evergreen landscapes of early California nature painting and California landscapes. First of all, it has been important for me to see landscape within the context of civilization: in other words, landscape that has been nurtured and lived in – not just pure nature. Civilization becomes an integral part of this composition without becoming the focal point. The 17th century landscape painter Claude Lorrain has influenced me with the “Claudian” landscape elements – hills, houses, noble edifices, architectural fragments, etc. – which I have used in an un-shown group of more formalized landscapes called “TEMPLVM”, or Temple. Furthermore, my lengthy involvement with landscape painting has allowed for a free flow of my imagination within the genre. The time span of almost thirty years has given time for my ideas to mature without critical or market constraints.
When I returned from Greece each year with a 2-meter wide roll of paintings – having used Greek paint, which dries and cracks, I would say, “These paintings are like bisque pottery”. Now I am so comfortable with crazing and paint that cracks – it gives me an excited edginess on the canvas. Like a potter throwing a pot and then thinking: “will the glaze crack,” like Japanese Raku ceramics – a primitive firing that creates surprises. This is the third phase of the VINETVM series, which I began in 1980. Having worked on this series in three phases I have accomplished a major goal and achievement in the development of my landscape art.
How could I not paint vineyards? Are they not stamped in my psyche? For twenty-five years as I awaken I see framed, each morning, a square format – a view of mountains, vineyards, and sky, both sunny and stormy, dark and light. Isn’t the sky sometimes filled with cracks and thick impasto – sometimes rainy and gray, the atmosphere always changing – both tumultuous and exuberant? This series provokes anger, bravura – rough, raw beauty pushing paint beyond the limits. As painting as an art form has diminished, art has become more to do with ideas and concepts than the painting. My continued seven-day-a-week painting schedule only excites me more for new fertile ventures on the canvas, daringly playing out that exhilarating game of chaos versus order. Planted in the landscape painting tradition my VINETVM series has evolved from the roots of many influences. My experiences living and studying in Europe, my great curiosity, and love of reading, all have provided me with a constant source of new ideas. The various levels of my creative consciousness combining intellect and emotions and above all a rebellion against mediocrity have, for me produced all of the qualities found in this new series of landscape paintings. I see them as a step beyond California figurative painting and abstract expressionism.