I am looking out the east-facing attic window of my home studio here on Shippan Point, Connecticut’s version of heaven on earth. Laid out below me is the view of Westcott Cove, then Long Neck Point in Darien, the Norwalk lighthouse, and then in the distance across Long Island Sound, Lloyd’s Neck and further along Port Jefferson, where the ferry from Bridgeport lands. It’s mid-spring and the leaves are just budding out from the ends and eyes of branches between me and my water view. I’m thinking how lucky I am to have this view, and to be able to walk down to the beach and slip into a kayak and paddle out over the gently scalloped water of The Cove and to Pirate’s Island, also known as Caritas Island, or Poopy-bird Island by local kids, a small island with a burned out stone house on it, an old house from maybe the 1950’s or so, not a ruin from hundreds or thousands of years ago like in Europe or Asia. And on the island is a lovely sandy beach that anyone can use if they can get to it.
No one knows for sure who owns the island, but a lot of local boaters use it for fishing or sun-tanning or barbecuing. The unwritten rule is you pack out what you bring in, which pretty much everyone follows. But now it’s time to paint something on this large piece of Belgium linen I have stretched and the fun and challenge of that is that I don’t have the faintest idea of what I am going to paint. Probably a figure or figures, or a face or faces. These are the most compelling subjects because they reflect us; we see ourselves in them and they see us from their perspective. It’s a mutual admiration society. I have no model or models or pictures or Google images to work from. Just my memory, recollections of images, feelings, sensations. My gut, my id, it just all spills out like something you utter, an exclamation, before thinking. Sometimes it’s poetry, and sometimes you put it away for a while to let it percolate and sometimes you scrape it away and start fresh because whatever it was didn’t work and it will never work no matter what you do. The only rule is that it has to be original. Totally original. That’s the mother lode. That’s the key.