“I want to see these houses solid, I want them to feel like houses. I don’t care about your drawings and your values-they are your affair. They will be good if you make me sense the houses and they will be bad, however “good” they are, if you do not make the houses live.” ~ Robert Henri
My fascination with log cabins and wilderness adventure surely began somewhere in my pre-teen years, for the first time in my life I searched for something in my identity that made me unique from my parents, sisters and friends. Yesterday, I found within a box storing the remnants of my sentimental possessions, a book entitled “How To Build And Furnish A Log Cabin” by W. Ben Hunt. The back cover was missing but otherwise it was in perfect condition, just as it was when I carefully studied it’s pages and dreamed of one day hoofing it into the wilderness and building a cabin of my own with my own two hands.
My romantic inclinations of building a solitary paradise in the wild likely started with the release of the 1969 movie “My Side Of The Mountain””, which was a loose adaptation of the 1959 novel by Jean Craighead George. In brief, the story was about a Boy who finds inspiration in the words of Henry David Thoreau before running away to the mountains to live off the land, the animals and his journal being his only company. I’m sure that the part of the story that grabbed my attention was how he built his home, he carved and burned for himself a cavernous sanctuary within the trunk of a giant Hemlock Tree.
And then in my mid teens there was the movie Jeremiah Johnson, my fantasy instantly renewed as Jeremiah put the finishing touches on his log fortress. With these song lyrics that fire inside of me was rekindled. “The way that you wander is the way that you choose, the day that you tarry is the day that you lose. Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder. Where the fair wind blows”.
As it turns out, the fair wind blew me in the direction of starting a family and building a career for the next couple of decades. Then in my late 30’s, I read the amazing account of the life of Christopher McCandless in John Krakauer’s book “Into The Wild”. The adventures of Alexander Supertramp and his short lived utopia in “Magic Bus” made me smile from ear to ear and in the end I find that I have personally come to the same conclusion as he, that “Happiness is only real when shared”.
So this is why I am compelled to paint the things that I do. When I paint subjects that are close to my heart, the process ceases to be just an exercise and it becomes an expression of who I am. Somehow, painting my adventurous memories and my dreams gives me the best of all worlds. In this work, I can make my happiness live and I can share that happiness with others.