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  • Newly elected member of the Salmagundi Art Club, New York, New York
  • Artists of the New Century at the Bennington Center for the Arts
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Under the Influence

November 8, 2019 by admin

I tell you I love to paint, but more specifically I love to grab my gear and get outside and try my luck at capturing the great outdoors. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as I’m painting I’m good. I’ve been told I paint all the time, that my paintings are just multiplying like bunnys out there.

Sounds to me like I’ve traded one addiction for another…

…and to celebrate 17 years of sobriety I think I’m going to go outside and paint… again.

Some of you knew me “then” and others only now. I’m different, yet I think about it and I see I’m still the same. I was never the life of parties, I didn’t dance on tables with lamp shades on my head. At least not to my recollection. I was just addicted to drinking and drugging. I tell myself “just one drink” and then that was it. Who was I fooling? I kept drinking till all be beer was gone, or I passed out somewhere. I was your typical alcoholic, if there is a typical one.

Stats say that 1 in 8 people have a drinking problem, that’s like 42,000,000 people in America, that’s mind boggling. Compare that to 2.1 professional artists in the USA, sounds like I stand a much better chance of being a drunk as opposed to a working artist. I wonder how many of them are addicts, I’m sure that statistic is out there somewhere.

Anyway, I was that 1 in 8 guy.

I won’t go into the details, I did that too many times in the smoke filled halls of AA, but 17 years ago I had my last drink. It was not pretty for sure, and I was hurting myself and others around me. But I did stop thanks to those who still cared, the Roeland Park Police department, and the program of Alcholics Anonymous.

I just finished a book by Stephen King called “Doctor Sleep” and it’s what happened to the little boy Danny from the “Shining”  after the Overlook hotel burnt to the ground. Danny was an alcoholic too, and I found the book very interesting and caught myself relating to much in the book. Stephen King has a great way of making one relate to his characters in his novels. Like me, the protaganist in this book, Danny, went to Alcoholics Anonymous to help him with his drinking and drugging problems. As I read the book I heard the hundreds of AA slogans coming back to me, “Easy Does It”, and “One Day at a Time”. They were powerful things to help this troubled soul crawl from my personal bottom that brought me here.

But unlike Dan, I do not still go to these meetings, instead I paint. I paint to better cope with things around me, I paint when I’m feeling happy, I paint when I’m sad. To get lost into another world of your own creation is a wonderful feeling, it’s euphoric, it’s my new “high”. They tell you that you’ve got to find a “Higher Power” to help stay sober, and I think I have. My higher power is the power to create. Will it keep me from drinking again? I have no idea, but I try to keep fresh how it was for me then, and how it is for me now, and work each new day.

I’ve come a long way, but it’s always just 12 ounces away.

Like I said, I’ve traded one addiction for another. I think it’s a better choice, actually it’s my only choice. So in the meantime “Sha la la la la la live for today”

 

“Cheers, I’ve made it another day!”

I don’t paint for “Fun”

December 17, 2013 by admin

Recently I did a little challenge on Facebook involving artists from around the world. It was not for money or any sort of prize, no fame or glory, no accolades from the high end galleries on 5th Avenue. It was artists on every level taking part in something just for fun. The response was good, and some wonderful paintings were created and sent in. Almost all of those I spoke or messaged with thought it a great idea, and something along these lines should be done again.

And then there were a few of the others… not the artists who were traveling had a million other things that had to be done and were putting them off because more important things kept coming up. No, I’m talking about that other % of people that see things that are fun as a waste of time.

Are you an artist? If so, at what point in your professional career does the fun leave your work?

Why is it you paint, or better yet, let’s step back a few years. Quite a few for some of us.

Why did you ever decide to pick up a paint brush, or pen and ink and begin to create? Is it something you did on your own, or more something that you had to do along with the rest of the kids?

To some a blank piece of paper made a better paper airplane than it did a place to make a picture, but for me I found drawing a lot of fun. Something that was easilyRGS Circa 1977small picked up, always got good responses from other people, except from the teacher when I was supposed to be paying attention, and it gave me something to do whenever I was grounded and had to stay in my room. This was maybe one of my first ways to escape the here and now was through my art, and enter the world of my imagination.

Not everyone likes art, that’s a given. But what about those of us who do like art, and are good at it and making our career at it. Do we like it? Do we enjoy the act of creation? I do, but then I’m the kind of guy who likes just about everything, (except stewed tomatoes, yech!) And if I don’t like something, I still make the best of whatever it is. I have heard many say that the simpler minded people enjoy life much more than most because they don’t have the worries and questions that the more educated have.

Is this true? Maybe so.

I see a number of people totally miserable in their lives because they are not content. They are not content with what they have, and question incessantly. Learning is a wonderful thing, but for me I find if something gets in the way of my being happy, go around it, and if that’s not possible, make the best of it.

smile

smile

I’ve always been a “happy go lucky” type of personality, but real peace did not come to me till I fell face first into “AA”. Here I learned this helpful little prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr… “Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference”.

For me, this has been a lifesaver and helps me enjoy life as I can. My wife Susie tells me on occasion that “at our age, we have earned the right to enjoy life to it’s fullest!” I’m kind of paraphrasing, but maybe you get the drift.

While mentoring under Rick Howell he made it clear that on occasion you don’t have to look at a subject and evaluate it along the same lines as your gallery would. Deciding whether it would translate well as a large corporate work, or it fits in your gallery. Every once in a while you just need to paint something for fun, because you want to, the way you want to.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

I feel very fortunate to have spent my entire adult life in the field of art, doing something I enjoy. Whether you are or not it does not keep you from trying to make each and every moment on earth enjoyable for yourself or for others.  My 10 years as Cubmaster gave to me a credo that I live by and you may well know it too… “KISMIF” say it with me, “Keep It Simple, Make it Fun”

Maybe I will never be a “serious” artist, and if it’s a serious artist I must be, then you can have it. Because though I do take art seriously, I will do so with a smile   🙂

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