My mail carrier, a guy about my age with a gentle smile, always brings the deliveries to the front door, sneaks a glance through the windows and gives me a wave. Yesterday, when I opened the door to thank him, he stopped and leaned on the gate. “How did you do it? — How did you become an artist?” he asked . “All my teachers, when I was a kid and all through university, told me I could do something with my art — I was always drawing.” “My Dad was an artist,” I replied. “It looked like fun. It takes a long, long time and a strong stomach.” He laughed. “But how did you do it?” he said, and I understood what he was getting at. It was not enough simply to decide, or to have the desire, or to imagine oneself doing it. He was wondering if there was a process.
When we were growing up, people were always asking my Dad how he did it, and he always replied by telling them they could do it, too. Over the years, we watched chartered accountants, investment bankers, middle managers, high schoolers, hippies, housewives, grandmothers, jocks, architects, the handyman and even his own art dealers drop their current lives and pick up painting. I think he may have even convinced the local chapter of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept his material. “People quit their jobs when they meet your father,” my Mum once observed. She was sober to the hard-won triumphs and workaholic commitment he lived, while what he called his “survivor guilt” compelled him to leak only his joy onto his studio visitors. There was something in him that refused to share that there was a chance that what he was doing was nearly impossible. His unwavering belief in the universal availability of the power of creativity is why these letters exist.
I told my mail carrier that my parents encouraged my brothers and me, by example, to believe that art was a worthy cause. I told him that I went to university to study it, but that wasn’t really the point. And while I was given the chance, early to show my work and gain some very valuable professional experience, I soon left my hometown to restart anonymously in a place where no one knew my Dad. There were some significant and inelegant sacrifices. I entered enough open-calls to have forgotten about them when the rejections came. I continued to paint, non-stop. I told him that you have to make a lot of work — more work than you think any one person should really be polluting the planet with, over the course of several decades — in order to find out who you are and to pioneer your own techniques and creative voice. “Painting is like tennis,” I said. “You have to hit a lot of balls.” One day, if you’re lucky and prepared, the right person will see the right painting at the right moment and it will be another small chance to lay another stone into the cathedral that is your journey in art. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I’m building Rome,” I said. “You can do it, too. It’s never too late.” He was climbing back into his truck, but he held my gaze and I could see in his eyes that I had not lost him. I raised my voice as he drove away: “You can do it!”
PS: “Sometimes you have to go through something else to find what you’re looking for.” (Robert Genn)
Esoterica: “A young person wanting to become an artist might simply go purposefully and with dedication to his or her room with a few books and a thousand blank canvases for four years,” I heard my Dad say a few million times to those wondering how it was done, including his children. Now, it’s my Mum I call, with news of every art triumph and setback. She is the ultimate compassionate witness, having done so for almost all of her adult life, now deep into her second generation of artists, plus my young nieces and nephew, who are, perhaps, about to step off the cliff, too. I can see my Mum lovingly preparing them for the journey, stuffing their dream-shaped parachutes into unavoidably perforated bags. “You’re so lucky, Dad,” I once said to him, small amongst his paintings and tools, standing in his studio in my nightgown. He glanced up from his work. “Is it luck?”
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“Do not be frivolous with the gift of a day. Right now it’s all you have. Yesterday is history.” (Robert Genn)
We all need beauty, especially at a time when it appears to many that the world is in chaos.
Painting is the way I view my life, and it helps me keep my mind straight and my eyes on the positive. I look for beauty wherever I go. For that reason, I know that my life will not be long enough to paint all the ideas that I have.
I am painting because the Lord put the passion and desire in my heart to glorify Him in this way.
I have dedicated my life since 1983 to creating a body of work that testifies of His Creation, majesty, power, beauty, life and love.
Light and how we see it on the earth is the subject of all of my paintings.
I paint the landscape because I believe that we can see the Creator in His Creation, if we just look for Him there.
Since all who are sighted may see our surroundings, I believe this is one of the most evident ways we may see Him.
If I were to give a name to my entire portfolio of paintings, I would call it “The Sight of Heaven Touching Earth.”This Scripture, Romans 1:19-20, is foundational to all of my work: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse.”
Beauty, order, and the possibility to love is all around us—all we have to do is want to see it.