In 1978 Striffolino left his architect's job to embark upon what he has since called "an odyssey: I decided to travel for as long as I needed to reestablish something in my soul, something I had gotten away from." He backpacked and camped along for seven months starting in the Great Smoky Mountains, then along the Gulf Coast and across Texas to New Mexico, through the Rocky Mountains north into Canada, and finally across to the Pacific and down the California coast. It was while camping in California within sight of the Pacific Ocean that he made the decision to settle down and paint in earnest. This decision he later said "resounded in my soul". Immediately thereafter he moved permanently to northern New Mexico, where he still resides.
For Striffolino color is the highest and most subjective element of painting, but the real subject matter of his work is its emotional content. He strives to articulate on canvas an intense feeling about the location, whether it is the physical dynamics of the landscape or the juxtaposition of colors and light. This is when the painting really begins to take on a life of its own.
"Elmer Bischoff said, 'You have to bring off a fusion of your interest both in the subject and in the painting. It's like walking on a tightrope...the paint on canvas plays a double role -- one of an alive, sensual thing in itself, and the other conveying a response to the subject. Between the two is the tightrope.' I like the fact that I need to feel that tension. I feed information onto the canvas until a dialogue begins. Listening becomes paramount because then I can discover what the painting needs in order for it to blossom. Another balance and tension I seek is between the landscape imagery and my emotions. That kind of tension and edge keeps me coming back to paint again and again."