“If, after the first hours or days in a painting, I am successful in capturing the thing I saw or felt, I am amazed, and thank Providence for the gift of the ability to do this. I tell you, this is great work if you can get it, but I could use two lifetimes to paint all the things I want to paint.”
Early on I was fascinated by bicycle or tennis shoe tracks in the dust - designs - they seemed to whisper of the deep past - the ancient world. The splatter of mud when you threw a stone into it, was beautiful.
In the center of the dining room table, I arranged the jars, bottles, boxes or shakers until the grouping was ‘right’ - the spaces between (what artists call negative spaces,) had to be correct, the relationships, satisfactory.
Mother looked askance.
I started a scrapbook of my favourite photos of great art which appeared each month in the Saturday Evening Post. Started drawing the neighbor’s house’s floor- plans. Cut up the magazines every month.
“We’d better do something with him,” she said.
At twelve, then, I was sent for private lesson in painting every Saturday morning from nine until noon. It was tedious to have to miss Saturday morning cartoons, but I liked Pat - she was enthusiastic, and bold in her own work and she seemed to think I had some talent. She only let me paint with a palette knife - made me stay loose - made me see the important elements.
When the first batch of art-lesson-money ran out, the old man wouldn’t let any more go for ‘art lessons’ so in the end mother sold her piano to pay for my lessons.
She sold her piano...
When that money ran out Pat insisted that I keep coming - said we’d not worry about money.
Kept this up until I was fifteen or sixteen - we moved away to the coast.
After University I decided to return to academia - this time to Art School.
I’d already been painting for years - had my own ‘style’ you could say, but I learned much at Art School - and found people to admire - some who spoke my language.
Around 1980, I decided to become a ‘professional’ artist... thus, the lean years ensued.
I supplemented erratic paychecks from art sales by advancing my boat captain’s licenses and working in the marine world - I liked that.
Did that all these years - paint a little, boat a little, paint a little, boat a little - did some traveling, too, which helped the art, I think.
Right now, Arlene and I are living on our forty foot sailboat, named ‘Sargasso,’ and I’m painting watercolour after watercolour in the salon. Arlene pats away on the computer writing her short stories, I get paper wet, the cats walk on my paintings, or across her keyboard - and we live, low, slow and happily.