I think I began to draw when I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember copying cartoons by David Low. Black and white. Black and white has always been very important to me. Ink. Charcoal. Print.

By the time I was 14 I was painting every day. But otherwise, as has often been the case, my life was unsettled and difficult. By lucky circumstance, I found Black Mountain College when I was 16—and from there I was able to enter New York City and San Francisco.

I often explain my art by saying “from the abstract to the figure, from the figure to the abstract makes an edge of exquisite distance and distance gives us our sensations.”

Writing was part of being at Black Mountain. But I did not begin to write seriously until 1985, after a series of disappointments followed by my first trip back to England since my parents and I emigrated in 1947. When I returned to New York, I could not stop writing. It was “a season of digestion.”

Today I go back and forth between painting and writing, on two different floors of my house in Brooklyn. One feeds the other and in both I bring disparate things together.