I think I saw my first Rackstraw Downes painting in the early 80’s. It was a long skinny painting of a dry wash at the side of a road. It was so dry, so unspectacular as to be …spectacular. He paints on site. Beginning with drawings, small studies to large paintings all on site. He paints every day in the traffic and exhaust and sun and clouds.
“passion for facts, his desire for exactitude, makes for a sort of urgent dryness, an excruciatingly low-keyed, almost insensible skin-of-the-teeth element of poetry in his painting.” This is a quote from Downes about the seventeenth-century Dutch master Pieter Jansz. Saenredam. He might have been describing his own work.