02 Sep

Way back when I was in high school as a mere seventeen-year-old, I hung a painting in my first art show.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my first painting ever, but it was certainly among the first I was not ashamed to show in public.

Using a pallet knife, I swirled globs of yellow and white acrylic paint together on the canvas board, shaping a large, off-center circle. It looked like a white-hot sun with swirls of intense yellow energy mixed in. The background was solid white; the frame, yellow. I don’t remember the title, nor the canvas size – maybe 18x24. Don’t know. 

Remembering the painting now, my pride and joy was really pretty cheesy, but I sure didn’t think so at the time. To be showing art to the public seemed natural and completely appropriate. I was in my element. And for a young married couple to actually understand and buy my painting for $50.00, I felt my artistic path was lined in gold. Today the same minimalist design by an unknown artist with no following would go for about $375. But at such an impressionable age, I became intrigued by the possibility of success – an attitude that eventually took precedent over my desire to make fine art. 

When I went to college, I seriously considered majoring in art but was also interested in studying psychology. Trying to figure out who I was and which path to take in my first semester, I took one course of each discipline. I felt confident to discover my passion through the process of elimination. My plan was to choose the discipline I made the better grade in. Then at semester’s end, that plan tanked. I made an A in both courses. What a quandary! 

Over the winter break, I ruminated the advantages and disadvantages of both paths. To this day, I remember making the final decision. I would major in psychology because – get this – it was too much trouble always having to lug around my portfolio and all the art supplies. I remember deciding I’ll take the path of least resistance. That was the first step of many that led me away from art making. 

Even though psychology was fascinating and I loved every minute studying it, the choice was ironic. I didn’t pursue an advanced degree to make that education pay off. So at that point, I was neither a psychologist nor an artist and still didn’t know definitively how I would operate in the world. 

Between then and now, I have reinvented myself multiple times each for the sake of making a living rather than living my most natural life. In those choices, I functioned adequately well but paid a dear price. In those years I suppressed not only my artistic bent, but also the fullness of my self-concept. The constant, gradual diversion from my true nature left some friends along the way unable to recognize my free spirit. 

Fast forward to 2016, I was drawn back to art making with a passion approaching near obsession. For example, I’d be driving to the grocery store and a have the insatiable thought, I want to paint. Or when yanking weeds from my vegetable garden – I want to paint! Or watching political pundits on TV and trying to make sense of our absurd national ongoing constitutional crisis, What I really want to do is paint! Damn it!! 

I believe quiet, loving forces were helping me refocus attention on my authentic self and illuminate my true path. So I took yet another turn – this time a U-turn. I dug out my mother’s old paint brushes, bought canvases and paints, and enrolled in an acrylic painting class. 


Recently, I was sitting on a bench in front of our local art gallery when a friend – a water colorist – walked by. I noticed how much she looked like an artist – not in a stereotypical, bohemian way, but in a comfortable, self-aware, confident way. She was beautiful; her smile, radiant. Clearly, she knows and likes herself, the artist.  Hopefully, my demeanor will someday be as remarkable as my friend’s as I find love in carrying around my portfolio and art supplies.

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