To say that I have struggled to think of something to write here is an understatement. It isn’t easy to write about yourself when you’re not a writer and any attempt prior was poor at best. I knew what I didn’t want here. I didn’t want some long-winded, convoluted, platitude filled diatribe with too many words, no facts, no humanity, no connection to my work and total absence of honesty and truth. So here it goes.
Art has always been a joy, a struggle, a close friend and in so many ways a sanctuary. Art has helped me through difficult times, lifted my spirit and balanced out my sense of self-worth, when it was most needed. Art has challenged me well beyond what I ever expected. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.
Prior to my first year in high school I was like all children, I loved to draw and create and had no misgivings about what I created. I always received adoration and criticism from others in exactly the same way, I didn’t care. High school changed all that and no one expected it, least of all me.
In grade eight, I took art classes and I’m pretty sure I did so not out of interest but because I thought they’d be easy classes that I could cruise through. This is what lazy students do and I had no interest in school from the very beginning.
As far as my terrible attitude, that remained the same right until the end of high school, I was always uninterested and more often than not bored out of my mind. I would spend more time in the library and art studios and less time where I was supposed to be. I’m not sure if this is a record but one year I attended, 7 out of 47 English classes yet still managed to pass.
My passion for creating art really began when my then grade 8 art teacher, Al Williams, took us to an art show at Studio 2880 in Prince George, BC. The show was a surrealist art show with many artists contributing work. It was at that show, that I had an epiphany. It was at that show, transfixed on some of the art presented, that I told myself this is what I wanted to do. It’s difficult to explain but it was like a connection had been made, on a very personal level.
I don’t entirely recollect how I met Gene Bricker, a Prince George Artist, someone that became a close friend in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s. It’s fair to say Gene opened my eyes to the resources that had a profound influence on developing my skills both in observation and in production. The old adage, you don’t know what you don’t know was a perfect descriptor of me. As a painter without formal art instruction, these resources were invaluable and changed my attitude and thoughts about art creation in a very profound way. From chaos to order.
Books by different artists from different historical time frames as well as magazines and videos provided instruction as well as showcasing some of the world’s most accomplished representational artists and illustrators. One of the artists, Richard Schmid, influenced me more than all the others through his Alla Prima books, DVDs and books showcasing his work. Unfortunately, Richard passed before I had the chance to meet him in person, one of my bucket list items. Other influences include John Carlson, Edgar Payne, Burt Silverman, Skip Liepke, Henry Hensche, Andrew Loomis, Kevin Macpherson, Robert A. Johnson, Daniel Greene, David Leffel and many, many others.
Life beyond school, work and today
Later in life, after meeting and marrying Sue, my beautiful, loving, giving, and incredibly supportive wife, an angel really, I put my best foot forward at being a full time painter. Although, I was doing fine, growing, learning and selling as I went, I found the art world and market to be the least enjoyable, most labor intensive, nausea inducing part of being a full time painter. At that time, a saturation of offset prints with some artists making editions of 10,000 or more and having agencies to market and endorse their work, made relying on sales of original work incredibly difficult.
So being a full time painter didn’t work out for me. I was in the wrong geographic location, sold originals primarily and I had a great deal to learn about painting and about life. I needed to find another way to earn a living, which I did, while continuing to paint and learning about painting. It became a hobby passion and not a vocation.
Because this will in all likelihood be the last stint of my painting life, apparently, life has time limits, I want to make painting about painting and nothing else.
As Richard Schmid so eloquently puts it in his excellent book, Alla Prima, “You are the sum of your choices. Your job then is to make sure that your ideas about what to paint are not wholly based upon either the acceptable or the taboo, but arise instead from what honestly fascinates and stirs you. You may feel vulnerable, but I see no way around that. I assure you it is OK to feel vulnerable— it is, after all, the human condition. In any case, your thoughts (and mine) are just as valid as anyone else’s. Even though you share countless similarities with others, yours are unique. No one has your mind or your feelings. They do not notice what you notice, and do not have precisely the same sensitivities or fears. No one has the same idea of God as you. No one longs to embrace life or ponders death and beyond as you. No one is human in the same way as you are. Once you understand this, your task is to get in touch with yourself. Find out what moves you, what you believe in, what you truly understand about life, who you are, and what this great experience of being alive means to you. Then put it in your paintings!”
For the foreseeable future I plan to do exactly this.
if anyone visiting this site is interested in posting their thoughts or opinions feel free to get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.