I don’t know what school of painting I am in, if any. It doesn’t matter to me because I have some talent for likenesses and I stick to that. And I find all of my restlessness in life can be put into a composition on canvas or expressed in a sculpture. For me, painting is a matter of religion; to keep on painting is the main thing.
In the late 1930s I was enrolled in a life drawing class at the YMCA in Springfield, Illinois, at the time that the Children’s Service League took my brothers and sisters under their control. I was the only teenager in the class. They selected me because they recognized a talent in me. Later, I joined the Merchant Marine as a seaman, got the GI Bill and moved to New York City to study under the French purist Amédée Ozenfant at The Ozenfant School of Fine Arts on 23rd street. I was a conscientious student, but not one of his disciples. I learned how to buy good paint and brushes as well as work in a large format. Ozenfant introduced me to Egyptian art, Bach, the paintings of Seurat, and the perfection in an egg. I like all kinds of art, meaning that which is produced aesthetically, knowingly or unknowingly. I have held onto my work until now and never thought about making a living from it after attempting several times when I was younger to break into the art market.
For many years I was an orderly at the VA hospital at Montrose in New York. I watched the patients, how they moved and interacted with each other and how they coped with the staff. All the patients were heavily medicated. I tried to paint because I had the remote idea that it might serve me in my behavior to others.
For 70 years my life has been mostly bad jobs, like most everybody else, and occasionally drawing and painting, except now, being retired and having built my house to paint in, I am free. I have found that bad jobs can produce very good pictures. Don’t know what good jobs produce.