Paul D. Natkin

The Viewpoint

My grandfather was a Sunday painter--a very passionate one. He once told me, "To call oneself an artist, one must paint a hundred paintings." I took it to heart. I can never paint enough paintings of the Viewpoint.

As beautiful as it is, the Viewpoint has a certain compositional awkwardness. That's one reason I keep going back to it. I always want to correct it in my mind's eye. I want it to be visually harmonious.

I remember my first painting of the Viewpoint. At least I think it was the first. I painted it in 1985. I worked on it for about three weeks, according to some notes I took around that time. I painted it in the summer, as I recall, and worked on it mostly in the mid- to late afternoon, in order to have some bluish shadows, along with the bright areas. I was fascinated by the great number of details in the background, including everything in the areas across the bay, and even further, across the lake. The complexity of the scene in the distance contrasted with the relative simplicity of the green areas of the mid-ground and foreground...

While I’m always striving to paint the perfect picture of the Viewpoint, it’s more the struggle, and even feeling of being perpetually defeated by the place, that draw me to it.

Painter of Memory

Supposing you completely forgot who you were, or you ceased to exist as such. Then you could come back pretending to be yourself. Some people pretend to be someone else. But you could pretend to be yourself. Supposing you were once a painter—you could come back as a painter, and you could paint the memory of having been yourself.

The True Story of T. S. W.

It’s sometimes very hard to determine what is true and what is false—especially where ancestors are concerned. What is often long held to be true is false. But what is false can become so familiar that it takes on a life of its own and becomes a new kind of truth—something that must be negotiated with as much as the original truth, if there ever was one.