7:34 PM, 10-Jul-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
6:50 PM, 10-Jul-2010
This was a picture that wasnít working for me. Iíd set it aside.
Now I donít frame most of my paintings. I paint too many of them and make too little money to be framing paintings. Somehow this lady figured I wasnít framing my paintings because I didnít realize they look better in frames. So this lady asked if I had anything she could frame just to show me. She buys frames at garage sales and thought she would have something to put on a painting and then Iíd see and WAH-LAHHHH Iíd start framing my stuff.
It turns out this work friend didnít realize that frames and paintings come in different sizes. I figured Iíd get her preoccupied if I just gave her something to piddle with, so I gave her this painting that was unfinished and not working for me.
A couple of weeks later the girl brought my picture back to me. She didnít have any frames the right size. So I figured Iíd just prime over the work and then Iíd have another canvas to paint on, and I was taking the picture back to my truck when another young cute girl stopped me and asked to see it. She went wild for the picture. I thought, well, itís a piece of crap to me but if she wants it, let her have it. So I gave this 20somthing the painting.
Later it started to bother me. The picture wasnít finished. She wanted me to sign it, and I didnít want to sign it if it was unfinished. So I offered to take the picture back and finish it up.
She said swell. Well the gulf oil spill was[and is] going on, and I added a little oil slick to the centaurís body map. I made Oklahoma stand out since we are trapped here in Oklahoma. It still wasnít what Iíd hoped, but it was more finished, the edges were defined, the colors were dressed up and the whole thing was given several coats of acrylic varnish.
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
9:04 PM, 3-Jul-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
I am ambivalent about commissions. In these pictures I have painted a requested scene on an ostrich egg. I wanted to try painting on a big ole egg, but to get this chance I had to paint a combine. That was my only guidance, but still, a combine. I love bread but Iím just not moved by the site of a combine.
The process was interesting. I was brought an ostrich egg, but it still had a big ole ostrich embryo inside it. How does one get the yoke and white out of the egg and still have something you can paint on? I used my dermal and ground a hole in the bottom of the shell just slightly larger than a drinking straw. As the grinding went on, and I did the grinding slowly to avoid cracking the egg, I noticed that the small of grinding the shell was similar to the smell you sometimes get when a dentist is drilling a tooth.
I inserted the straw and blew air into the shell. At first nothing happened but once the pressure built up the goo sprayed out in that space between the straw and the rim of the hole and I got ostrich embryo on my glasses and face. It took a while to make most of the goo gone.
Next I went through a process of filling the egg shell with water and draining that over and over again. I let that drip until it would drip no more and next I filled the shell with bleach. Then I used water to clear out the bleach.
I let it dry a day and next I plugged the hole with a tiny wad of paper towel and some acrylic modeling paste. I got that hole as flush as possible and used primer and primed the egg. I let that dry a couple of days. I ended up painting the whole scene today.
10:39 AM, 19-Jun-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
I donít make a lot of money. Compared to most of the world Iím rich, but Iím entangled by the trappings of Western civilization. I have two vehicles, a house, with payments, and high medical expenses that will only stop when I do. For this reason, I am a cheapo when it comes to my art supplies. For example, I donít buy tubes of watercolor or acrylic paint. I buy those little bottles of craft acrylic paint. Is that wrong? I am told that the quality of the pigment and the acrylic binders are best with tubes of paint, but how much better? Will the tube paints cause a painting to last 500 years, while the craft acrylic paint will last only 400 years. A tube of acrylic paint may cost me $4.00 and if I wait for a sale I can sometimes get a bottle for 48 cents.
I varnish my paintings using acrylic varnish, but instead of buying a jar of Liquatex
Acrylic Varnish I get the stuff they sell at Home Depot or Lowes
. I get about 4 times more varnish for about the same cost.
If I have a gift card Iíll buy canvas at the local arts and craft store, but if I have to pay out of my pocket I get a bucket of gesso
and a sheet of hardboard. I cut the hardboard to size. I put one coat of gesso
on the sanded smooth side, and then I use water based primer to put enough coats on the hardboard to make it white.
Iím told that I am just not taking the care to ensure my work is going to last.
This cheapo thing Iím doing has many advantages for me AND it conforms to my outlook on life.
The advantage is that if the materials are cheap, I can afford to paint more. I donít believe my work is going to be treasured by the future beings, and Iím not painting for them. My desire is to paint.
I have a friend, Richard Montgomery, now a philosophy professor in West Virginia, but 40 years ago we were in a creative writing class together. Richard wrote a story about an artist painting a picture. The majority of the story is about the intensity of his focus as he created this picture. At the end of the story the artist sees the whole work, he is pleased with his efforts. The next thing the artist does is burn the painting. Why? Because the importance is creating art is the creating, not the admiration of the piece after it is done. That story has never left my mind.
Early in my life my family admired creativity, but the focus was in having the completed work. The stress was for the work to last beyond our own lifetime. The purpose of creating a picture, or a poem, or a novel is to have that finished product last longer than the artist lasts. The emphasis was on leaving a trace of oneís existence.
Early in my creative life I bought that pile of horse hockey, so I got protective and possessive of everything I created. Later I noticed that my focus on making stuff for posterity was keeping me from working every day. I had to make some choices:
Do I want to have been an artist, or do I want to be an artist right now.
Do I want the title, or do I want to paint pictures.
Do I want to talk about writing, or do I want to write.
MY OUTLOOK ON LIFE
I believe that someday, life on earth will end. Some day our planet will resemble Mars. I believe that all art will deteriorate eventually. The question is not will an art work last, but how long will it last. The lasting forever is not one of the choices. There is a point where every work of art will crumble into dust.
No artist can know how long his work is going to last, will it be admired, treasured, preserved. Leonardo DaVinci
probably painted hundredís of pictures, but only a handful have been preserved. If posterity is what matters, then you are not an artist youíre a narcissist. Because I believe that in time every trace of me will be dust, my focus is in the creating. I can do the creating with cheap materials. I have no fear that my work is going to crumble and fade during my lifetime. My work is going to out last me. I feel certain it will last as long as it needs to last.
I have a brother that tells me he likes my work. I have given him half a dozen paintings. Recently I learned that he re-gifted them. I have another brother who accepted paintings, claimed to like them, but, when I went to his home I noticed my work was no where to be seen. I gave a close friend a large watercolor that I spent $100 to frame, and he hung it in the junk room of his house. It hangs on a wall and is enjoyed by the ironing board, and stored Christmas decorations.
I have very little reason to believe people are going to value my work. Some are polite and say that it is nice, but few people like it enough to buy it. The thing is, I paint now. Now is when I exist. Now is what matters. And my NOWs
are enhanced by the act of doing some creative work. After that, well, I just donít have a clue.
10:03 AM, 18-Jun-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
There are a lot of art work that I just canít stop loving. I have a catholic taste in art, allowing me to enjoy so called realism, impressionism, surrealism, folk art-outsider art, and actually the isms just donít matter to me. I also like illustration art.
I am an Andrew Wyeth fan. I am certain I will love Christina's World for the rest of my life. http://www.michaelarnoldart.com/christinas_world.jpg
I am powerfully moved by the work of Jack Unruh. http://www.jackunruh.com/home.html
My father was a commercial artist (not an illustrator) but because ads were so important to my dad, I grew up loving illustrators.
In my opinion Brad Holland is just a wonderful illustrator http://www.bradholland.net/
The best artist I ever met personally is D.J. Lafonhttp://www.askart.com/askart/l/dee_j_lafon/dee_j_lafon.aspx
Lafon was head of the art department at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. I took a large landscape to his home and he gave me some insights from what he observed.
It is somewhat odd that I would like illustrators since I have such an aversion to creating paintings or drawings requested by other people. I recall Andrew Wyeth painted a picture of Eisenhower http://collectionsonline.lacma.org/MWEBimages/aa_mm/thumb/M64_67.JPG
as a cover for Time magazine. The act was so unpleasant to him that he never took another illustratorís job.
Years later Andrew Wyethís son, Jamie Wyeth http://www.jamiewyeth.com/
was commissioned by the Kennedy family to do a portrait of John F. Kennedy http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/exploring/ballet/nw/images/wy_works/Portrait-of-JFK_300.jpg
a work I find wonderful, but it was rejected by the Kennedy Family.
I have taken commissions from time to time. I have done cover illustrations for publications produced by some organization I was associated with, but I have never felt good about a requested art work. I imagine my low self-esteem has something to do with it. I have no problem selling a painting. If someone sees something I have done and they would like to have it, well, it is for sale. Iím getting a storage problem so selling my work is needed to free up space for new work.
But if someone asks for a painting I feel like I have to please the buyer before I start. I am not painting something that pleases me, I am trying to guess what someone else will like, and if I fail to guess what they wanted, well, I failed.
I have enough failure in my life. I donít need to put myself in situations where I am open to criticism and rejection. I suppose I should ďman-up.Ē I need to grow a spine. I need to be compassionate to myself and if someone wants to call me a failure I need to tell them to go screw themselves.
So, while I hate painting assignments, I still admire illustrations. It turns out that the fine art, and folk art that I like the most has an illustrator sense about them.
I donít just like lines on a page, or dabs, and washes and smears of color. It is not the competence of an artistís skill that draws me to their work, it is a work of art that says something to me. I donít have to know the story that was in the artistís mind, I just want to be intrigued.
The late Alan E. Cober http://www.letralia.com/ciudad/yusti/imagenes/mente.jpg
Iíve loved the works of Franklin McMahon http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01185/arts-graphics-2008_1185467a.jpg
There are millions of skilled artists competent in their work, but regardless of their ability, the work resonates with me when the work is more than good painting, more than skilled drawing, more than accomplished technicians in photography, or collage, or whatever else they are doing. The work has to contain something more than the visual. The art I admire most is art that contains some trace of the living being that created it.
9:02 AM, 14-Jun-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
"Art is the lie that tells the truth."
-- Pablo Picasso
I heard the Picasso quote many years ago, and loved it. The phrase is, essentially, a SOUND BITE,. Picassoís definition of art is short, concise, easy to remember, and it was made by someone generally accepted by most of the world as an authority on the subject, so, geez
, whatís not to like?
I have coffee cups, and tee-shirt messages, tattoos, bumper stickers, and notebooks filled with quotations. There are millions of us that have attempted to form our philosophy of life from bumper stickers and distill our view of all facets
of existence to aphorisms and clichťs
Of course the joy of an aphorism is that it can be called on in a debate, and it has been heard so often that it is often just accepted. Maxims become truth. The problem with leaning on quotable quotes is that it ends the debate, and what should have been an essay becomes 8 words accepted without analysis.
WHAT IS ART? When I look at the sound bite attempts to answer the question, I find myself simultaneously impressed and incredulous.A picture is a poem without words.
Maybe so, since a picture is worth a thousand words.Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.
Really? If you create a work of art because you enjoy throwing a pot, or painting a canvas, and have no thoughts about reality or truth, then what are you doing?Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
The sense that you zone out while painting, is a sensation I experience almost daily, but is it possible people watching a football game are also running away without leaving home?
I think there is just a whole lot of BS yammering going on about art, artists, and talent.
I have two thoughts about becoming or being an artist.
FIRST: Anyone could develop an ability to draw, or paint. All it takes to draw something is to have dedicated thousands of hours of your life practicing. Author and artist Christy
Brown, born with cerebral palsy, wrote a memoir entitled MY LEFT FOOT. The book was turned into a movie in 1989 directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Christy
Brown had control over only one part of his body, his left foot. With that one area of bodily control he managed to write several books and paint numerous paintings. Painting a picture with your foot seems impossible, but clearly it is possible. The reason Mr. Brown could paint and type with his left foot is because he practiced. He wrote and painted every day.
There are dozens of quadriplegic artists painting amazing pictures while holding the brush in their teeth.http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/quadriplegic-artist-finds-release-by-painting-with-his-mouth/1068344
It is not eye/hand coordination that enables you to paint, it is practice. You learn to paint by painting and you learn to write by writing, skaters learn to do the triple axis by practicing, any difficult task is learned by trying relentlessly.
I believe ANYONE without profound disabilities can become an accomplished artist. This brings me to my next thought.
TWO: One trait common to all artists is their motivated to practice. Anyone can draw if they will only try to draw a few thousand pictures within as short an amount of time as possible.
There is no secret about how to create accomplished art work. If you do anything a thousand times you will be better at it than you were on try one, or even try fifty. There is no HOW TO secret about art, but that doesn
ít explain why some are artists and some are not. There is still a secret, there is still a question I canít answer and that question is this:
WHY ARE SOME MOTIVATED? Why do some work at their art for months, and years, and for the majority of their life?
I have no answer. I know, for me, I have family obligations, or household chores that prevent me from painting and writing for a day or so, and when that happens I feel wrong. Something is wrong. I get nervous and fidgety. I carry a sketch journal. If Iím in a waiting room and have nothing to write or sketch in I feel like at a big event with my zipper down. Something is wrong. Something is not right. I donít want to feel this way again. I rarely go anywhere without some outlet for my creative urge.
Why do some of us have this creative urge and why do others not have it? Maybe we all have a creative urge, but some are focused on other things. Donald Trumpís creative urge may be focused on business and sexy women with thick accents.
As a former high school teacher I figured out that teachers donít teach anything. Teaching is not pouring knowledge into a kidís head. All education is self-education. If you want to learn something badly enough you will learn it. The job of the teacher is not to dispense information, the job of a teacher is to motivate. If you can do something, say something, provide some activity that inspires a kid to want to learn something then they will teach themselves.
Teachers are not encyclopedias, they are cheerleaders. What goes for education goes for everything. The artist is not the one with talent, the artist is the one motivated to create art.Hoffer
said that where the development of talent is concerned, we are still at the food gathering stage. We donít know how to grow it.
9:17 AM, 20-May-2010
My long suffering wife, who (I believe) loves me as much as she can, said, "I think painting is a good hobby for you." As soon as I heard that word "hobby" it felt a little like I'd stepped on a shard of glass barefooted. Hobby? Is what I do a hobby?
Is what I do a hobby?
Does it matter? Why do I feel an aversion to the word?
The definition of a hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation. The activity is done for pleasure and relaxation and not for financial gain. Obviously a hobby might produce something that can be sold, and money can accumulate, but the reason one engages in the hobby is not to earn a living, it is to enjoy living.
Often I tell people that when I paint I zone out, it is like medication, self-hypnotism, it creates in me a sort of Buddhist calm, and since I have been, for years depressed and stressed, it seems prudent for me to involve myself in some activity that clears my mind of distractions, and focuses me on the moment only. When I paint, I forget time. When I paint the television becomes a talking lamp, the coffee in my cup goes untouched and grows cold. I work a late shift so I set the alarm on my cell phone to go off at 1:45 pm. This reminds me to stop painting and get ready to go to work. Without the alarm I could easily be late to work. When I paint, time ceases to exist, or at least time ceases to matter.' When I paint what matters is the painting.
Sometimes friends will ask me to paint something particular. Often they want a portrait of their dog, or a likeness of their dead mother. I have stopped taking such commissions. I've done it in the past and sometimes I've been successful, and sometimes not. The thing is, if I take a commission then suddenly I have to paint something that pleases someone else, someone who likely has a preconceived idea of what they want. I have no problem having someone say, "I like that picture, how much would you take for it." The picture is done. If someone wants to buy something already done, something that appeals to them, then fine. At no point was that picture painted to please that buyer, it was painted because I wanted to paint it. If I have an order to fill then the benefits of painting is, for me, diminished.
Sometimes, once I have finished a painting, I'll look at it and decide it sucks like a vacuum cleaner. Because I am struggle financially, I will often decide to paint over the sucky picture with primer and try again. Why waste a canvas? Nevertheless, even when I paint a picture and feel my efforts have failed, I still benefited from the painting. I enjoy painting a bad picture as much as I enjoy painting a good picture. Of course I don't enjoy looking at a failed end product, the action of painting did not fail.
Again, this all sounds like what I do is a hobby. It sounds like I paint because it helps me, pleases me, relaxes me, and I don't do it to make money. So what's wrong with calling it a hobby?
I guess I have this assumption that something done for money is serious and something done for pleasure and relaxation is trivial. If what I do is considered a hobby by other people then they are not going to honor my sacrifice of time on the altar of hobby.
When I looked at the origins of the word Hobby I found that the roots of the word go way back and are linked to our childhood toy, the hobby horse. Actually the toy's name goes back even further, perhaps to medieval days when a small horse (13 to 14 hands which is about 52 to 56 inches, or 130 to 140 centimeters) was bred for soldiers called Hobelars. The HOBBY was the name given to these small skirmishing horse. Since that horse was small, it made since to call the child's toy horse, a Hobby Horse. The Hobby Horse could actually be ridden, and it was fun to ride, but it took you nowhere. In a similar way our hobbies are real activities, they are fun to do, but the fun, and the doing is the purpose of that activity.
Well, maybe the purpose of my painting is not getting rich and famous, but it is more than a hobby to me. I need another category. I need to find another term. There are, I guess, passive hobbies and obsessive hobbies. What I do matters to me, and people who care about me MUST honor my devotion to painting. If you want to have a relationship with me, then part of me is my need to paint every day. (I also write every day.)
Yes, I miss days sometimes. My son recently got his PHD at Princeton, and my wife and I flew up there and spent 4 days with him. I didn't paint. I did bring a sketch pad, and I did sketch when I had time, but I didn't paint. I will still go shopping with Kathie, and make trips to the grocery store. I still mow the grass. I am not demanding that ONLY my needs matter. While Kathie has a relationship with me, I also have a relationship with her. I honor what matters to her.
I just hate calling what I do a hobby. I've read that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his life time. Does that mean Van Gogh was just a hobbyist painter? Painting is part of who I am, and that means the value of painting is linked to my value as a human being.
6:21 AM, 19-May-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
Some people look at my doodles, or look at my paintings and I usually get the same comment: ďI wish I could paint.Ē OR ďI canít even draw a straight line.Ē OR ďI wish I had your talent.Ē
I usually reply in some way similar to this: ďYou not only could do the art work I do, but you could probably do it better than I do. All you need to do is do what I have done. I have drawn thousands of pictures. Most of the pictures I have drawn were on scraps of paper, or in the margins of workbooks, so Iím not claiming to have done thousands of finished, ready to be framed pictures. What I am saying is that I have sketched, doodled, and cartooned day after day for the past 60 years. I drew in school when I was supposed to be doing seat work. I drew in church as I endured two sermons on Sunday and one on Wednesday night. My parents thought drawing and painting were important so I was encouraged to draw and paint, supplies were made available to me, and while I didnít call it practice, that is what it was. I practiced all the time.
A person who hasnít drawn many pictures canít expect to be as skilled as someone who has drawn 20, 000 pictures. But anyone who has drawn and painted as much as I have will be pretty good at it and lots of folks will be great at it.
What I think most people mean when they sigh and say they wish they could paint like I do, they mean that they wish they could just do what I do without ever having to do the practice. I wish I were thin without having to eat less. I wish I had muscles without having to lift weights.
Throughout history there have been these plumbs of artistic expression that seem to just happen. How can we explain that Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael all knew each other, were alive at about the same time, and about the same area on this earth? Or how about the Impressionists in France? Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Dagas Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gaugh and Lautrec all come on the scene at about the same period in history, in France, or they are drawn to France, and these guys knew each other. How can that be? What explains it?
Eric Hoffer writes some about this and in general he seems to think what is valued by society creates the talented. A kid that throws a ball well, in a society that honors sports, is likely to get encouragement to keep throwing that ball. A kid in Renaissance Italy might draw a picture on the side walk with a piece of chalk and the art lovers of their society will say, ďHey kid. Thatís great. Draw some more.Ē
I have a good friend who argues with me and the example he uses to refute my view is singing. Some people just canít carry a tune. Some people can take lessons, and practice and even love music, but they just canít stay on tune. We all know people like that he says so clearly some people just get the gift of singing and some donít.
It is a good point. I am not sure I agree, but I do recognize that the point is well made and not easily refuted.
Eric Hoffer said, "Where the development of talent is concerned, we are still at the food gathering stage." In other words, we may recognize talent, we might be able to go out and find talent and haul talent into the studio, but we have not yet learned how to grow talent. Our ability to plant the seeds of talent, to cultivate and nurture talent is just not something we as a society have learned do yet.
I guess the debate about art is similar to the debate about all human traits: is it nature or nurture, is it a gift, or a learned skill, is it etched on our DNA or is it learnable.
I want it to be learnable, because if it is a gift then I have it, or I donít have it. It takes ME out of the equation. I want to believe that I can be an artist if I choose to be an artist. If YOU believe talent is a gift, and if YOU believe you didnít get the gift then YOU will not try, and you will not develop the talent you admire.
12:23 PM, 18-May-2010
PAINTING IS AN INVESTIGATION OF BEING.
While I have some baggage I carry around about my father (who doesn 't?) I have to admit to myself that there were times, as a child, that my daddy was my hero. I thought my daddy was the smartest, most talented man that had ever lived. When my father said something I treasured the words, I secreted them away in that part of my brain I called MY HEART. I like to pretend I have forgiven my father and that my grudges have gone the way of icicles in spring, but the grudges are still there cold and sharp and hanging over me menacingly. Nevertheless, despite my grudges remaining, I know there there are still things about my father's life that I admire. I have regrets for my father. I know that he sacrificed the life he wanted and surrendered his shot at greatness to support his family. I know he was trapped and I know why.
My father had a significant measure of artistic ability. Had he made a few different choices as a young man, there is a good chance that he would be as well known today as Norman Rockwell.
My father seemed unable to talk with me, unless he was driving. If I sat next to him, and he drove somewhere he would talk as he drove. The vast majority of my non-terrifying memories of my father occurred while he was driving and I was riding shot gun.
My father told me a lot of stories about artists. He would talk about how great Paul Cezanne, Telus Lautrec , Ren Degas, Vincent Van Gogh , Paul Gogan were and he knew a lot of biographical details. Later I learned that he had some of the facts wrong, but those factual errors did not diminish the intoxication of the tales. I was fascinated by the lives of these artists. To my father these were rags to riches stories. My dad didn 't want to work, he wanted to be rich and famous doing stuff he enjoyed doing. Who doesn 't want the same? My dad wanted to do what he wanted to do and be rich and famous doing it.. To him it looked like a short cut to the easy life. An artists take cheap canvas and paint and turn it into masterpieces admired for hundreds of years, and sometimes it is the source of enormous wealth.
Eventually I learned that my father didn 't really want to paint he wanted to be a rich famous painter. Being an artist was not the goal, being a famous artist was the goal. That was what he wanted for me, to be a rich famous artist who's name and work would be admired for a thousand years or longer. Education was not valued by my family. The main value in my family was creativity. Creativity was not just valued, it was the highest of all values.
Some of my father's paintings really wowed me. I have, in a place of honor on the walls of my home, a picture my father painted in 1954,. While I saw that painting almost every day that I lived in his home, I still find it a very fine painting. His technical skill was very, very good.
As I grew older, however, I noticed something about my dad's artistic work ethic. He was a very fine artist, but he just didn 't produce much art. When a picture was finished, when the quality of the work was to the point he wanted it to be, then it was done and had to be protected and treasured. He never immediately started another picture. My father was also very reluctant to sell his work, or to give it away to family.
I sometimes got the feeling that once he had completed a picture he was afraid he would not be able to do another picture as good as THAT one, and he was reluctant to start another and prove himself right.
The other thing I noticed about my dad is that most of his paintings were copies. I remember him trying portraits of his wife and children, but he just did not do that much original work. I remember him painting pictures from photos he saw in photography magazines. What I remember him doing most was copying paintings by artists he referred to as "the great masters." The thing about copying an existing work of art, or even a carefully composed photo, is that all the work of composing the picture is already done. Someone else has worked out the color pallet, the perspective, the copied picture has already found the light source and located the places where shadow needs to be to give it the desired look.
I caught that same disease. I would paint a picture and then be too afraid to start another. I too used magazines as a source for my painting subject matter. I wanted to keep every picture I painted because I feared no one else would care about them enough to let them go, and it was always possible the "gift" would leave me and I'd have no evidence left to show I had been a successful artist.
Eventually I gave up on my father's artistic goals and found my own goal. I became a more productive and somewhat happier artist when I faced what I believe are real yet disappointing truths. What I discovered was that I was a better artist when I stopped caring about the finished product. I go into a zen like altered state when I paint, but once it is done, once I've allowed the images to settle in a little, the finished product becomes just a trace of moments I am soon going to forget.
I'm not going to be a famous artist -- so I might as well not try. To be famous, my work has to be perfect. Each picture has to be a knocking it out of the ball park crowd please- er. If I can't do that kind of painting consistently then I can't be famous. Here is the advantage of accepting my mediocrity: If I'm not going to be famous then I am free do paint bad pictures. Once in a while I might paint something I think is pretty cool, but mostly, it just really doesn 't matter what I paint, how well I paint, and it doesn 't matter if other people like what I paint. To be a rich and famous artist most people have to love your work. I'm not famous, I'm not cut from that kind of cloth, so I'm not under any obligation to produce famous quality work. If I like to paint then I am now able to paint all I want with no restraints, no parameters , no rules, and no expectations.
If I paint a lot, then selling paintings, and giving paintings away is not a problem. If I paint a lot and don't distribute my work, then I'll soon be covered up with paintings. If I'm not a famous artist then who the hell cares what I paint? I can copy if I want to. I can do stuff out of my head and not give a tinker's damn if the shadows are all in the right place? I paint to please myself. I am free to paint what I want, how I want. I don't have to be good enough to sell because selling is not the goal. I don't have to paint good enough to be famous, because fame is a pipe-dream inherited from my father. Because I am free from my father's obsession with fame and fortune I am free to paint. My wife, who sees all this as a hobby, has said, "When you paint, you do better." She has endured almost 40 years with a chronically depressed husband. If painting make me easier to live with then that's just one more reason to keep painting.
I have already painted more pictures than has my father did. I have sold paintings in shows, I' ve taken commissions, I' ve painted murals, filled sketch books, and given pictures away. I have pictures in the Netherlands, in Australia, Abu Dhabi . Every where I have lived I' ve left pictures behind, Milwaukee, Kansas, Virginia, Florida, and all over Texas. I decided that while I may not be good enough to be the sort of painter my father wanted me to be, I am good enough to be the kind of painter I am. I may not be all that good, but what I lack in ability I make up for with volume. And here is the secret I learned: I enjoy painting. I paint because I like to paint. I only have to paint good enough to have fun painting. Nothing is freer than that.
|March 2010 paintings|
|flying walking the fly|
|Can he escape?|
|I love Kathie|
|House of cards|
centaur me Artwork Update - centaur_me_2.JPG
The Centaur is Me
Painting an Ostrich Egg
Archival Painting: Is It Worth It?
The Art I Like Most