After taking Art History courses at the University of Houston, I became enamored of El Greco and his extended figures. I painted this self-portrait in a raincoat with El Greco in mind. This painting was in the Houston Artists Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1950. It was originally larger but I folded it down to fit in a frame that I had. The rest of the painting is still attached. I re-signed it for the present owners.
As I was working on
this painting I knew I was an artist. I was no longer the student but the
artist. I was in control. Or at least the painting was in control. There was
the feeling that a transition was made. I purposely sketched in the wicker
rocker with my left hand to get a more free, slightly askew, representation
of the chair. As I worked with the turpentine washes, I discovered I could
move the pigment over to an edge, wash off the pigment, or shade the values.
It was exciting. I remember that I was working on the floor with the canvas
laying flat. That way the thin washes did not run but stayed where I had
pushed them. As I recall, the painting came together rather fast and it was
complete in that afternoon.
When I was stationed in Furth, Germany with the 793 MP Battalion as a radio operator, The University of Maryland offered me space in their building as a studio. All I had to do was keep the room neat and clean. It was a short walk from the kaserne and near the photo lab at the USO building. I bought supplies in Nurnberg and tacked the canvas to a board to work on.
With my two year tour of duty in the army over, I returned to Houston. I knew I wanted to do abstract painting after the everyday realistic existence of the service. There seemed to be a theme of two elements in the paintings. I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that Leila and I were married in August of that year.