THE EARLY YEARS
I was truly blessed to know and become friends with so many fine artists, as a result of The Shriver Gallery and living in Taos and later Santa Fe. Among the great opportunities which arose from this were that, in the early 1980's, I was able to study privately with two of the world's finest painters, Robert Lougheed and Ben Stahl. Different in style, approach, and philosophy, their influences had a balancing effect and provided me with training nearly impossible to find elsewhere. Bob Lougheed, a master of plein air realism gave me the skills necessary to faithfully render nearly any subject and light, while Ben Stahl, with his ever evolving approach to every single painting, gave me the confidence to always follow the evolution of my own curiosity, style, and vision. My earlier works, I believe, reflect both of their influences, but most visibly Robert Lougheeds as he taught me the technical 'nuts and bolts' of creating a realistic painting from life and it was he with whom I studied first.
In the first half of the 1980's, I was fortunate enough to live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on two occasions... the first time for several months, and the second time for almost two years. It was in San Miguel that I studied with Ben Stahl.
This small oil painting is of a small church, looking out across the vast landscape of central Mexico, from high atop the beautiful hillside town of San Miguel de Allende.
Before moving to San Miguel, I lived in Taos, New Mexico and traveled to Santa Fe on a semi-regular weekly basis to study with Robert Lougheed. I studied with him over a two year period, camping in his driveway in my Volkswagen bus. A master of landscape and wildlife painting, he taught me to draw with paint brushes and paint from life.
This handsome burro was painted at Rancho de las Golondrinas, near Santa Fe.
Rancho de las Golondrinas is a wonderful living museum to the south of Santa Fe and covers a large area of land with a great many things to see and paint. I was particularly taken with this view of a small barnyard and its chickens, standing directly in front of the church.
One of my earlier portraits, this is a painting of Carmen Freideburg, in San Miguel de Allende. With a subject as beautiful as Carmen, the most important thing to do is simply try to do a half decent job and not mess it up entirely. This painting is in my parent's collection and many people have tried to purchase it from them over the years. Thankfully, and much to my honor, they have held onto it.
This Balinese still life is one of the very first paintings I did, after deciding to pursue painting full time. All of the objects were collected by my mother, on a trip to Southeast Asia. This still life was set up and painted in my studio in Taos. Interestingly, many years later, the stringed instrument had not fared so well and had cracked and broken. I took the liberty of using the neck, with it's dragon head, as part of a large sculpture I did, which ended up in the entry way to the Governor's Mansion in West Virginia.
Throughout my career, I have only done a few paintings of subject matter drawn from someone else's experiences or travels. This is one of them and was another one of my first paintings. Moroccan Man Resting was inspired by a photograph taken by extended relatives and, therefore, I didn't feel too guilty using it. It was, however, a decision made even more difficult by the fact that I painted almost exclusively from life, avoiding the use of photographs. But I found this subject mysterious enough to not resist temptation. Perhaps someday I will make that trip to Morocco myself.