Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Crystallization - Part 3 of 4: Transformed

John R Powers once wrote in his book The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God that “Life is a lousy spectator sport.” Whether you are 5, 25, 50 or 75, the difference between living and existing is the belief that the actions we take today will affect the outcome of tomorrow for ourselves and others. And to take it upon ourselves to do something about it. Each of us has to listen, and sometimes struggle, long enough to realize that we indeed have a hidden dream that necessitates taking action regardless of the potential for unsettling consequences. We know that once the ticket is purchased and the seatbelt cinched firmly across our lap, the amusement park ride that is life unfolds in ways unimaginable.  

Watercolor and Pencil,
18 x 24
Many years ago, I remember when I had a dream; that my work as an artist could make a difference in some way. As I was changing careers after working in a field for which I had gone to college and struggled to enter and then had practiced for more than five years, I was a bit uncertain about making a change after so much commitment. A sign, if there was really such a thing, came one afternoon in the form of a cicada that alighted on a window screen in our newlywed apartment long enough for me to take pictures, study it and then let it go. This moment in time was captured in the illustration at right-the first portfolio piece for a studio that I started and ran for over 19 years. It resulted in work for a variety of companies and institutions, some of which still can be found on the internet today almost two decades after their creation. But the dream had since faded, the business closed a while ago due to a number of issues none of which had sealed its fate but in concert brought it to an end.

I had returned home from the trip to Michigan and mourned the loss of the previous week; the closeness with family, friends and the new people I had met and the general concept of returning to “reality.” But the sadness was quickly replaced with the realization that something big had also just happened. I just wasn’t sure what it was so I kept thinking about this internal process taking place, distilling, churning, clearing and while the last of the expanding crystal spread outwards, reaching to just below the skin.

I kept thinking about the carpenter that spent seven months restoring a historic structure on the grounds of the resort, the care taken to rebuild it and shore it up for future generations. The cook that drives many hours round trip once a week to again be a member of the “family” of resort workers which she has been a part of for many years. Or the guest that studied philosophy decades ago, a passion she shared with her husband over the course of their long lifetime together. All framed by the beautiful faces that shared these stories with me. Maybe I was meant to have stayed the full week to experience the pain in the beginning while those I met and interviewed empowered me to realize . . .  a dream.

Portraiture and storytelling. Capturing the essence of those around me and their stories. 

It was there, all along, simply waiting for the crystalline moment to open up the path to my next artistic endeavor. I had been practicing it, toying with it, but never really giving it serious consideration. Since returning home, I’ve completed no fewer than five sketches or paintings, met with a mentor/instructor that I’ve worked with for a number of years and mapped out the next four to five months of effort. In the coming months, I’ll share where I am at on the path. On the one hand I am thrilled to have this direction but on the other I’m terrified because I know what a long road I have ahead; art doesn’t bow to any specific time frame. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens next - I hope that you’ll join me on this trip. 

The Cook 
Pastel on Paper -
In Studio Study
The Carpenter 
Pastel on Paper -
In Studio Study

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