Art by David Witbeck
In the first 18 years of my life I always drew pictures of boats, lighthouses and stormy seascapes and read every sea story I could find in the school library. When studying at Pratt Institute, I’d often skip my morning painting classes to prowl the Fulton Fish Market and take photographs of fishing boats with the Brooklyn Bridge looming behind them and of longshoremen pushing handcarts loaded with crates of iced fish over the cobbled streets. I got hooked by photography. [...] Thirty-two years after quitting art school, that the need to paint finally overwhelmed me. Having been a photographer for nearly three decades, the greatest joy I have as a painter is freedom from “reality”. I can bend, twist, stretch, exaggerate and simplify the things I see. I can put things in and leave things out. I can even completely make things up, which is what I do most of the time. I can paint how things make me feel instead of simply what they look like. As a young art student I took Art and myself way too seriously. Having come back to painting relatively late in life I now understand that few artists have anything earth-shaking to say. Now, I’m most pleased when people look at my work and smile. It’s nice to be able to put together a collection of lines and shapes and colors that bring a little fun and brightness to a world that’s too often frightening and dreary.