I am very excited about my current painting–“Swimming Hole, Fleischmanns“. A recent plein air paintout in Fleischmanns, NY was spoiled by drizzle. Instead of attempting to paint under an umbrella I walked around the town park with my sketchbook. At the very back of the playing fields I discovered a swimming hole where young boys were having a wonderful time. They were splashing, riding rubber tubes and using a rope hanging from a nearby tree to fling themselves from the rock ledge and drop into the deep hole. The Catskill area is filled with these traditional swimming spots. This particular one has high stone walls on two sides and the creek/branch/kill flows through them. A little rain didn’t bother these boys; they were already very, very wet.
I have used the sketches made that day and an earlier one from a museum in Bergamo, Italy in my composition.
Lately I have been thinking about my close feeling of kinship with Thomas Hart Benton. The similarities of my work to his go beyond the choice of subject; he has a “Swimming Hole“ painting. When I was a student at The Cleveland Institute of Art an instructor once commented on a resemblance of my line to his. Recently one of my own students noticed it. It is certainly not conscious on my part; I just like the lyrical way my arm feels going up and down, over and across as it creates an generic rather than specific shape; a tree rather than that Catalpa tree in my backyard.