Thursday, October 7, 2010

Welcome to my art blog!!

This is my first little attempt at blogging. I want to just share a few thoughts about life as an artist, and as a person trying to balance my love of life and family with this addiction that is art. There are a few quotes I found early on in my art career that have stayed with me and helped me in forming the compass that I have used to guide the choices that I have made at important turning points, as well as in the choices I've made in deciding what I am going to paint next.

One of the books I found that I loved very much was a collection of letters by the great American artist N. C. Wyeth to his mother when he was just getting started as an artist. One thing he said had a real impact on me. He said " The genuineness of the artists' work depends on the genuineness of the artists' living. In other words, art is not what you do, it is what you are. We cannot in art produce a fraction more than what we are."

Another amazing illustrator from the same time period as Wyeth was Harvey Dunn. Dunn was also a wonderful and tough teacher who spoke very directly. He said in his classes " If your life is full , you'll paint full pictures. If it is empty, your pictures will be empty too!

These two men not only painted powerful paintings that even today continue to inspire people but they lived lives that touched countless admirers and friends. I watched a wonderful documentary about N. C. Wyeth and his relationship with his children who all went on to become noted artists, musicians and inventors. I was so moved by how deeply he treasured each of his children and his wife and how they and his art didn't seem to occupy different spheres of his life, but all seemed to be be weaved together to make a meaningful life. And Dunn was also wonderful family man who was a huge influence on his students, many of which went on to be famous artists and illustrators. John Clymer was a member of the Illustrators Hall of Fame and later one of our greatest western painters who took me under his wing early in my career and was so kind to help me see what it really meant to be an artist. John was a student of both Wyeth and Dunn. When he spoke of Dunn's classes tears would pour out and it became hard for John to speak.

So these three great artists and great men taught me something that has stayed with me all these nearly forty years of painting. They taught me that life, career and family were tied together in a way that could benefit and make each richer. And I feel that it was a lesson that has proven right. And so I guess it probably has a lot to do with why I chose to include my family in so much of my subject matter. And that choice has truly made my life richer. I have to admit that I haven't always succeeded in balancing the things that were important but I'm so grateful that I was introduced to these men early in my career and for how that has always given me something to shoot for. It helped me to see that taking time to go for a bike ride with the kids or going for our walks to the river or a thousand other things we found to do usually not only brought us closer but left me inspired with new ideas for paintings. There are a lot of very talented painters coming up in the art world right now that I admire a lot but if there is one thing I feel would make their art more meaningful it would be to follow Wyeth and Dunn's advice and put more of themselves into their art and to fill their lives with rich experiences that bring about inspiration naturally.

As another great artist named John Carlson wrote " A picture is a work of art, not because it is " Modern" nor because it is " Ancient " but because it is a sincere expression of the human heart."