June 18, 2014
Location:Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Allen Whiting, born in 1946 on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, grew up in the landscape he loves to paint. He has a degree in studio painting from Windham College in Vermont. Allen lives and works on the West Tisbury sheep farm that has been in his family for generations. His work is displayed in the Davis House Gallery and in many private and public collections around the world.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project?
You made me want to participate. My love and respect for your parents is of record, but now it is a treat to see you and Ben develop into artists in your own right as well as so charming.
What was your first reaction to the song? (Thoughts, images, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?)
I found the piece strong but also familiar and comfortable. I felt like I was on a 5 note
ride descending down a gentle right hand curve, the first three notes being the most
prominent. Lots of memories came to mind. I was just making my commitment to
painting as James was reaching international recognition. His story as well as his music is inspirational. Lynne and I have been life long fans.
What was the music about in your mind?
Some kind of introduction.
What part of your painting came to you first?
The spacing and the gentle downward slide with again a curve to the right.
What was your process? How did you take your original reaction and turn it into this painting?
Once I had a vague sense of the composition, I started to look for the elements that I
could use for the picture. I was painting outside every day so I just started looking. I kept thinking about the north shore as it tends to curve away to the right, at least where points of land meet the sea. But it averaged 19 degrees that week so I huddled out of the wind facing south.
Why did you choose Squibby? What is your history with this place?
I chose Squibby for several reasons, most of which are relevant . I have been working on Blacksmith valley road overlooking Squibnocket point. Magnificent. I’ve been there for 6 weeks. My connection is growing in strength because I realize that because I have Mayhews on both sides, the first whites to live there were my own family. History being what it may, I think of those long ago people looking out on the same beauty.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
My usual process is to make a lot of small oil studies outside and then expand on the ones I like (I make a bigger more detailed painting outside if I need) Finally I make a much larger one with just me, my paints and my canvas. Quite often the little ones are better. In this case I found what I wanted after I had heard an interview that James just had with Charlie Rose. He said in effect that he wasn’t so sure that he created songs as much as he just heard them first. I have long held that perhaps I see landscape pictures first. I didn’t really create them nor do I own them when I am done. Maybe I make them a little more visible. Anyway, I was listening to the piece when one of these small studies called to me and had all that I wanted right in it.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know?
I tried to put down the dance card and just make an easy painting that felt good as well as speak about the elements of composition. The observer should know that, the line in the drawing, that guides the eye through a picture is quite akin to the melody or rhythm that ties a piece of music together.