Artist Statement

I drew and painted as a child. At first, art helped me elude a bullying brother, but soon it showed me I could express a freedom of self. Hungrily, I drew and dabbed paint as self-expression. Most experiences and feelings could not be articulated in any other way.

In grade school, drawing helped me to combat boredom. While taking notes for class I would become lost in the doodles that burst from my pen. Though an underachiever, I was very fortunate in high school to have a teacher who encouraged me to paint. After that art school seemed inevitable, and I entered Silvermine College of Art in New Cannan, CT in 1965. At that time, Silvermine was administered by graduates who had been trained by Albers at Yale, dominating my approach.

In my first year, Dean Robert Gray stood me before VanGogh’s "The Night Cafe" at Yale. That view reaffirmed a world I had been glimpsing in my own work. I entered VanGogh’s painting and knew the truth and beauty of its creativity. Since that day, I have drawn and painted with an intensity that empowers each new day.

While concentrating on large drawings in pencil or black poster paint (during and after my last year at school) my tutor was Arnold Bittleman. These drawings were first shown at the Newport Art Museum in 1973. From this a patron supported my landscapes and portraits, perfecting a realist representation of the world around me. For eleven years, I painted houses, working every summer and collecting unemployment every winter. Thus in winter I painted constantly and productively. My oils, watercolors and drawings found buyers at shows in unused retail space.

For two and a half years, I painted hulls in a shipyard. The dichotomy of the ocean's beauty and the coastline’s craggy features clashed with the barren, raw industrial force of shipyard hardware. As always my surroundings were caught by my work, shifting from straight visual representation to exploring the essence of all experience. Color expanded to encompass emotions.

For nearly two years I was a househusband, snatching moments through the day to splash watercolors and sumie ink drawings. I treasured these works for their rapidity and directness. To pay the rent I later drove taxicabs at night. The long idle hours were ideal for drawing the street scenes. I filled sketchbooks and honed my visual shorthand.

Then I became Artist in Residence at my son's grade school. Five years of volunteer work there filled the school hallways, my private gallery! That rich experience, learning from my students, echoed the lessons learned at Silvermine. Teacher and student struggle together in search of truth and beauty.

I am a hard working, passionate man. I began my painting career because it addressed unanswerable, infinite questions about our human existence. I am an artist, and, while struggling constantly with family finances, can still continue to draw and paint. I'm pleased to be leaving the visual trail of an emerging human.

For the past eighteen years I have worked as a taxi dispatcher. Never wanting to force my art to support me, I endure the forty-hour week to have the rest of the time for the studio. Over the years I have sold thousands of paintings and drawings...works that reflect my soul’s searching the world for beauty. I am grateful that people respond to, and want, these works as a part of their lives. My life has embraced the visual arts since I first stared at Van Gogh’s "The Night Cafe" twenty-nine years ago. Since then, I have looked at a million paintings and know great art when I see it. Occasionally, I make great art.
                        -Peter F. Lanouette 1994

 

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