James O'Shea

“On a very cold day last winter, my partner and I decided to walk on the railroad tracks from Bard to Tivoli and back again. I’m always surprised at how the trees and water seem not to mind the cold. Every tree was finely etched against the sky. A loon that would have gone unnoticed in June looked more lonely than hungry as it floated in the bay. The sound of our feet on the rocks on the tracks sounded so crisp and clear. So much of life’s structure reveals itself when it goes into hibernation. There is so much that asks to be isolated and examined as it sleeps.

In summer, land and water melt into each other. There is so much color and so little to define it. An island with trees becomes a mass of incoherent green. Animals can make themselves invisible. Noises become blurs. There can be almost too much going on. Everything is fighting for attention.

When I was a kid, I would sometimes look deep into my father’s face when he took a nap on a quiet Saturday afternoon. (Okay, I only did it two or three times.) It was a good way to get to know him. It was a good way to know how loving and kind he was. No wonder we have winter. Winter makes the world understandable as the world rests up for spring. These paintings, I hope, show a little bit more than a landscape’s breadth and pith, to be known only when it is cold. I liked having to supply the color.”