My paintings, writings, teaching, public presentations, and institutional leadership comprise a single effort that I call “The art/life work, 1970 to date.” A reluctance to separate elements of creation from one another and a struggle with conventional ideas about what art is have helped me see what it can be.
Painting is my most consistent discipline of imaginative inquiry and expression. The two early and lasting influences were studies with the New York School painter Theodoros Stamos (1967-1968) and my work with untrained artists at the Danvers State Hospital where I became an art therapist in March of 1970. The patients in the art studio taught me how to paint in direct and authentic ways in response to the immediate environment as I combined figurative imagination with the abstract expressionist emphasis on spontaneous gesture, color, and the physical qualities of paint.
Art making for me is a process of research and learning which informs not only the process of painting but my studies of the psychology of art and therapy. I made drawings and paintings of Danvers patients as they did the same with me. In keeping with my closeness to the Boston conceptual art community I exhibited the work in the mid-1970s as a single piece expressing art/life/work integration. Later I applied art medicine to my own struggles while working as a dean and feeling alienated from the creative life. After drawing in meetings I expanded the images quickly into paintings in my studio that I exhibited on unstretched canvas as Art Alchemies in museum and gallery shows presented as events lasting just one day.
During the 1980s and 1990s I made art in the training studios that I led in various parts of world mixing features of the particular locale with imagination and dreams. The imagery was spontaneous, usually on paper, and I let it happen as naturally as possible. I incorporated paintings into my books Depth Psychology of Art (1989) and Art as Medicine (1992) and showed the work in public lectures as art events. It was the first time an art therapist revealed personal expressions in this way and it encouraged others to integrate artistic expression into education, practice, and the public persona of the discipline.
In the early 2000s I began to paint in response to the immediate place where I live and explore the self as relationships with other people, places, things, and imagination. I see my current work in the tradition of the Cape Ann locale and identify with Nell Blaine, the early Stuart Davis, and Marsden Hartley who are part of this place, its self, and memory.
From 2005 to date paintings have been shown at the Jane Deering Gallery in Annisquam, MA and Santa Barbara, CA.