I came to painting unconventionally, with no memories of childhood painting aptitude and little painting experience outside of my elementary school art classes. I’ve always liked to draw, but my ability to render what I saw was never remarkable. Playing sports and being a good student were more my things.
There is some photographic evidence that hints of my early interest in painting, but being an artist was never part of my identity. I’m not sure what it would mean to claim that identity at age 50. Nor do I really feel I must do so, at least not any more than I’ve defined myself in other ways. Am I a painter? Someone who likes to paint? Is there really a difference?
I don’t know. I’m just curious about these sorts of things, most especially how each of us develops and claims aspects of ourselves that have been unknown or previously dormant.
What I do know is that I’m irrationally compelled to make visual images, increasingly so since I started experimenting with watercolor in college. My first watercolor set had been gifted to me in high school, but went unused for a couple of years. Looking back, it feels like the paints waited for me to find them, waited for my readiness to move beyond the comfortable safety of an expected path. It’s been a slow walk!
I wish I could remember what led me to make that first painting, which I still have, though not on display. Maybe that would be informational in some way. I do recall it didn’t matter that I used regular paper, that the paper buckled pretty significantly, or that I had little painting finesse.
Today is the first in 4 sequential days I haven’t spent hours engrossed in painting. The painting workshop I attended earlier this week – my first ever – has ended. The deferred maintenance of my life is crying for my attention, away from painting. But here I am writing about painting.
Does this mean I’m a painter? Maybe it just means I’m curious to understand myself, others, and the world around me.
Predominantly, I feel like my development as a painter is just beginning. And that’s a bit strange to think about at this point in my life. On the other hand, I suspect the timing is just right, that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. Even if I don’t really know where that is.
Not everything can be understood with intellect. This is the reason for painting, and poetry, for making art of all types. And it’s probably the reason I’m driven to pick up a paintbrush, again and again.
Below is a sample of the works I created during the painting workshop, in rough order of their making. Several were painted en plein air (as the tide schedule and my sun sensitivity allowed). Some were made from a photo made during the week. Others are an expression of my imagination. I’m accustomed to painting in a certain way and proud that I challenged myself to move out of my comfort zone, to experiment with different surfaces and possibilities.
I hope you’ll enjoy the images. Moreover, I hope you’ll be inspired to make time in your life for whatever compels you, whether or not anyone else acknowledges that thing. You can create your own path.
With gratitude to Pete Hocking, who helped create a safe space to paint, each in our own way. Primarily self-taught, I haven’t really known how best to intersect with a teacher. As things happen, there were a number of synchronicities that pointed me to Pete’s workshop in Provincetown, MA. If you’re not familiar with his work, check him out here. His work is incredible.