Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On being an Artist

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It's hard for me to believe that November is more than half over, and Christmas will be here before we know it. What a cliche! I mean that last sentence. Today, I'm feeling very judgmental towards myself. As I worked on my painting Kwan Yin at Sunset on Bandon Beach (above), I was worried that it looked amateurish or simply not well painted. And yet, I think I captured the mood of the place, the feeling I had when I was there.

For the past few months working for, I've been so busy looking at art and writing about it that I'm becoming more self-conscious about my own work. I'm not sure that's a good thing because I look at the work of other artists and feel defeated. What's the point, I ask myself. I'll never paint as well as Gary Erbe or John Baeder. But does that matter? The fact is I am compelled to paint, so painting I will continue to do. Buy why? What do I hope to accomplish?

Recently I met John Elliot. His wife, Sheila, volunteers her time to do publicity for the Everglades Chapter of the Audubon Society. My sister, Jan, who's the treasurer introduced us, and Sheila was kind enough to publicize my father and daughter show at Urs Art Studio Gallery. I ended up receiving a full-page article with my picture in the Boynton Beach Forum of the Sun Sentinel. Anyway, to thank Sheila who refused payment except in the form of a donation to the Audubon, Jan and I invited the Elliots to our house for happy hour.

It turns out that John Elliot is a master painter whose works are in a number of collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art in N.Y., the Smithsonian, and the Fogg Museum of Harvard University. His book Oil Pastel for the Serious Beginner: Basic Lessons in Becoming a Good Painter was published in 2002. He is a very humble man who admitted to being an artist when we met at the Urs gallery opening, but he never even alluded to his spectacular accomplishments. On our second meeting after I studied his web site, he did recount stories about his friendships with Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dali. I'm hoping to write an article about him for the Examiner. I have so much to learn from him.

So what does he have to do with my art and what I hope to accomplish by painting? I don't know. It's just a reminder to myself that no matter what, I'm enjoying this path that I'm taking. If not for my painting, I might not have met the Elliots.

Above to the left is my photo taken in the early morning on Bandon Beach in Oregon. Not the best photo. It was a drizzly, overcast day. We had been at this very same spot the night before at sunset, but I didn't have my camera with me. Jan, my cousin, Ed, and his partner, Alan, all saw Kwan Yin as we wandered the beach. The sky was pink and purple, and I felt like I was on another planet.