“Kuwaiti Oil Fires” 48″ x 20″ oil on stretched silk, 1991 was one of the last paintings I ever painted in oil. Soon after, I gave up oil painting in favor of acrylic.
I served on active duty in the United States Army. I deployed for Desert Shield. I participated in the ground war during Desert Storm. I will never forget the sight of the fires on the horizon, during the night, as we convoyed through a minefield during the start of the ground war, at the end of February, 1991. The terrible destruction, the ferocity of it, even at a distance – there’s no forgetting it. This painting hangs in my home, a part of my permanent collection, a reminder of what human beings make themselves capable of, and at what terrible cost it comes.
If we measure the worth of art by the weight of it’s meaning to the artist who creates it, this is one of my most precious works. It is certainly one that is heavy with the weight of its meaning to me, personally. I stretched the canvas for it myself, with the help of my partner-at-the-time. I used silk, in order to stretch it very tight, and for the exceedingly fine grain of the fabric. I prepared the canvas myself. I made use of unusual pigments, caput mortuum, asphaltic emulsion, and others now lost not only from the sales catalog, but also from my recollection. I painted it hoping, somehow, to communicate a moment, and an experience, to share the unshareable. It is a favorite piece with visitors to my home, and it struck me strangely, this morning, that I hadn’t written about it.
It’s very different than more recent work. It remains quite dear to me, and a painful reminder that there are no “do-overs” for some of the choices we make.