When did you start painting and what made you start?
This is the question I typically hear when someone sees one of my paintings or hears that I’m painting. My answer is simple… usually I’ll say something like, I’ve always wanted to paint and it was time to start, or something similar.
The longer story is that I feel it has been inside of me for a very long time and many circumstances led to opening the creative door.
I remember hearing stories of my grandmother painting in her backyard shed and I’m fortunate to have a few of her pieces. My mom has always been creative and growing up it seemed she was always working on some new project.
There’s a few moments where it seems that my love and appreciation for art was kindled. One of the first moments was my constant love of sketching as a middle schooler. Mainly it was of guitars and band logos I loved (yes… I was and am an Eddie Van Halen freak). Nothing special from this work, but the creative drive to continue to work on one more drawing… one more sketch to get the curve of the Fender Stratocaster body “just right”.
The real moment came when my grandmother took me to Paris and London a Summer I was in college. We spent hours at the Louvre and my favorite at the time, the Musee d’Orsay. Those Impressionist paintings by Cezanne, Monet and Degas were tattooed in my mind. The colors. The techniques used to form shapes, buildings, people, landscapes with brush strokes, medium and creative thought… it blew my mind.
But the moment that really hit home for me was one a trip to Washington, D.C. We took a quick museum trip and Rothko’s Untitled, 1949 grabbed me and never let go.
This piece seemed to stare back to me at its nearly 8 feet tall by 5 feet wide frame.
It may seem odd, but when I view this (and others) painting, it seems like I carry on a conversation with the artist and the work in my head. It reminds me of deep prayer where I’m concentrated on nothing but the moment. A relationship. A conversation.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I was emotionally moved. I don’t think I understood the complexities of the moment at the time, but I left the museum with a purchased print of the painting and it hung for years in my college room and even after graduation.
It is that relationship with the creative process of painting that has been stirring and churning in me for some time. The many conversations with my friend and amazing artist Dan Schwartz; and the discussions and lunch hour with a color wheel and oil paint with a local artist and friend Rosemary Achepohl. After consuming a number of books and articles on the New York School of Abstract Expressionism artists, watching as many documentaries I could on Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning, Still, Kline, Hoffman and any artist in New York in the 1950’s, I decided it was time.
This is my painting journey.