As a young painter, I saw the landscape for its potential as both a conveyor of visual beauty and a messenger of meaningful experience. The difficulty was defining what was special about it for me and then finding a way of orchestrating the visual vocabulary to meet what I was seeing and feeling. The conclusions I came up with were largely intuitive and it was only over a number of years that I have come to understand more fully what those qualities were and what they meant to me.
From the beginning, I knew that I did not want to reinvent what others had already done in landscape painting and sensed that a good deal of the intimacy [and sometimes intimidation] I felt about nature was its density and beauty close up. I thought that through the increased scale of the canvas and treating the surface almost as a watercolor, I might be able to get closer to that sensation. Also I felt that by developing the surfaces with more gestural brushstrokes, I could mirror the organic nature of the subject itself.
I would often take hundreds of photographs and visit a location numerous times to both understand it and find that special something that had the content I was after as well as the visual architecture to reflect it.
When I began painting like many artists my age, I was interested in abstract expressionism and then other movements that were popular. It was only later That I started to paint the landscape, not a very "cutting edge" involvement in the 1970s. It was a number of years before I understood the connection between this interest and times spent as a young boy in upper Wisconsin and the enduring memories of hiking, fishing and exploring that I did by myself.
I hope that some of those experiences of mystery, wonder and time will be shared in my work.
William Nichols 2012