Graham Nickson, Monumental Tree—Serena's Tree, 2000 Watercolor on paper 18 x 24 inches
Graham was my primary teacher at the New York Studio School and he basically formed me as a painter. I will always be grateful to him.
“It was 1972, and I went up on the roof of the Academy. I was looking at this dramatic sky, and it occurred to me that the most dangerous thing would be to paint the sunset, because it’s so clichéd, so hackneyed, so well known. Even at its best, it had already been done so well by Turner, Nolde, and other people. So I painted the first sunset, and it was awful. Then I painted the second one, and it was equally awful. Then I thought maybe I should try the dawns, because it’s the same thing but earlier. So then I’d have two goes a day. And before I knew it I had painted every dawn and sunset for two years.”
“In the last decade or so, I’ve been painting—mainly with watercolors as opposed to oil painting—every sunrise and sundown that I can do. This activity has become seminal. In a way, it has given me a kind of permission to explore the radicalness of color that happens in the big oil paintings.”
“His color is extreme.” “In all of his work,” wrote Mr. Forge, “there is a sense of something being pushed to a limit–a limit of saturation, of tonal contrast, of dissonance. What establishes the limit is a certain conception of light. This is where the line is drawn beyond which color would run berserk.”