Andrew in Amsterdam (on the way to the Van Gogh and Rijkesmuseum), 2011 Oil on linen 30 × 22 inches
Andrew in Amsterdam (on the way to the Van Gogh and Rijkesmuseum), 2011
Oil on linen 30 × 22 inches

For our 40th birthdays, I had a serendipitously had a show in Brussels, and we had a 40th birthday blowout that was one of the most excellent times of our lives we have ever enjoyed. We went to Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, and London, and stayed in incredible hotels and had out of this world food, but the most amazing moment was going to the Van Gogh Museum, where in the same place was a Rembrandt/Caravaggio show that was to die for. It was like one of those Sunday Titans of Rock, where our favorite heavy hitters all were under one roof. Much of the Rijksmuseum was closed for reconstruction, and they had some of their masterpieces, but many of the greatest hits of Rembrandt and Caravaggio were there alongside the very classic wealth of Van Goghs at that fabulous museum. Really, we went again and again, soaking it in, and not only was it edifying, it changed my life and my artistic career. I realized that the Old Masters had the same verve and vitality as Van Gogh and my favorite of the Impressionists. Instead, however, of just relying on when the muse left them after one or two goes at a canvas, both Rembrandt and Caravaggio went back in again and again, weaving their paint into a chiaroscuro, but also bringing out a layered warmth and ineffable emotion with each dense layer and skin they put down giving each canvas a life of its own. I had been spending more time on each canvas, wanting to get it right and not trusting on my first or second instincts like I had in the past, and was appreciating the results of this, but they proved to be a great lesson for me. We had bought expensive luggage for this trip too, and I realized, while not art in any sense, the luggage was expensive as it had been made by master craftsmen who made these wonderful pieces with their own kind of TLC, it was obvious that the bags were created in good time and with much care. I felt that if I was to make art, something that I couldn’t even afford, that I should take as much care as possible to go back into the work and not rely on first or second impressions, that going back into a work isn’t going to kill it, but rather have it "cook" longer to become, most of the time, even better—if you start out with a good image that all your noodling can make it great, especially if you can keep in the moment of the meditation, and focus greatly on what it means to you while your are generating something that you are aesthetically considering while allowing your thoughts and feelings to come through. In many ways this image is of a perfect moment, we couldn’t have been happier, and I was trying to convey my love for Amsterdam, my love for Andrew, my love for this world of culture and everything in it for as long as I could with my brush to remember it, and its lessons, forever.