Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Life of an Artist

I was recently invited to be included in a book titled "100 Artists of Washington" by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. It's always nice to be noticed, but, I was asked to write a little blurb about myself in the first person. This was an uncomfortable situation. It's like holding a spotlight above your head while doing a tap dance. I sat quietly for a while, trying to gather my thoughts. What brought me to this point in life? Why was I an artist as opposed to having a real job with regular income and health insurance? I had done that for a while but, it never clicked with me as my mind would wander off somewhere. Eventually, someone would smack me on the back of the head telling me to pay attention. Was that the key? I wrote:

"Gazing out the window watching a bird hop from one branch to another wasn’t uncommon for me in my early years while sitting in my classroom. Others were learning more quantitative subjects like math and verbal skills. It was that meditative activity that has stayed with me all my life. Art has been my interest since childhood.

My formative years were established in a small town in southern Ohio, Chillicothe. Art took many forms in my life and creativity was at the center although, not always recognized. I studied two years at the Columbus Collage of Art and Design and went on to receive my degree at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. I did teach for a while at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art, Chicago, the Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS, as well as painting workshops throughout the United States and Europe.

My voice, however didn’t establish itself until I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1990. The Skagit Valley Region of Washington State was my artistic coming of age. It was here where my “impasto” skills emerged and my voice began to bellow. It was here where I discovered that my technical skills were my tools of expression and not the end within itself."

So, that was my submitted response for the upcoming book, 100 Artists of Washington. Did I choose the life of an artist or did it choose me? The idea of working 9 to 5 with regular income conjures up the idea of security and being able to walk away from your job at day's end. An artist has none of that. I don't seem to be able to walk away nor do I have the security of a regular income. I went 11 months in 2011 without a major piece of my work selling. In the past 3 weeks, 7 have sold. That's like getting paid once a year but, that's the norm in this profession. I really don't think of it as a profession as much as an obsession. There are many positive aspects that far out way the negatives. First, no one can fire or lay my off. Second, if the weather is nice, I can chose to go for a bike ride. Mostly though it the satisfaction of delving into yourself and losing all concepts of time and space while coming out the other side with the fruits of your labor(or fruits of your play).


  1. Introspection is an important aspect to a life well lived. You're not only a "painter" but a "writer" as well.
    P.S. Thanks to you I now have this fantastic pochade kit and no clue as to what to do next!

  2. Quit gazing out the window and head for the hills! ;-)
    I have three sizes of pochade boxes and a French easel and love and use them all. I'm sure you'll get good use out of yours.

    I recommend looking at Carol Marine's still life work and taking a '100 brushstroke per painting' approach for the next 100 frisbees. This will keep your work loose and fresh with color. That would be my approach if I were staring at a pristine-looking pochade box. You know, sort of like bright new white sneakers. Get some mud on it! Enjoy. :-)

  3. I see what you mean. She does nice work. Tried fast, limited pallet, last nite in studio (raining) just for the practice...yikes! Tough stuff. P.S. Still give "ruffled" a rub (frame not painting) every morning, sort of like a Buddha-thing. Heidi found a great bronze of similar bird in black a great combination. Hope your thinking about a trip to warm and sunny PD. Best to you both from us both...


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