Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 98
Painting – My Own Voice!
You think you’re the painter,
but you’re the canvas.
JOHN GREEN, Turtles All the Way Down
continued from... – A bit of a backtrack and how everything rolled out while, at the same time, rolled in and back out again!
Yeah, the Vitruvian Wave thing again. How could I teach if I wasn’t given the opportunity to teach? The reason, or excuse from the powers that be? No exhibiting – hah! – no teaching.
Who could paint, never mind exhibit working 90-hours a week in a restaurant. The only household income. Plus, to augment the income and to survive I did ad layouts when I wasn’t at the restaurant. There was no money in the budget for art supplies and there was no energy left except to go to work and start over.
So, I adopted advertising and marketing as my life. I used to tell myself that by 30, 40 and then 50 I would be able to go back to Art. I would be able to paint. I would be able to teach. Then after many disappointments and rejections, I withdrew but, I never stopped drawing and painting even if it was just in my head.
When I reached 59-years old I said, “This is it!” The country was into what was referred to as a recession but it had all the earmarks of a depression. I lost every job I had. The worst part was that I could not get another job, no matter how menial because of my age and education.
So, I went out and knocked on the local gallery doors. I introduced myself to a painter turned gallerist, a Chilean immigrant named Luis Villanueva. My portfolio was forty-years old. He took his time and reverently went through every piece and selected over two-dozen works on paper.
He said he would give me a show. I was elated. He had one of, if not the best, small galleries in New Bedford, the Colo Colo Gallery. A week or so later I received a call from him to pick up my work. He had changed his mind.
When I arrived at the gallery, he told me that he wouldn’t be doing me any favors by showing old work. He asked me if I could produce thirty new pieces of work in 60-days. I took up the challenge but never told him that I was wondering if I had set myself up for failure.
The first three paintings just popped out and I had the feeling that I had put down my brush for only a few minutes not 40-years. I delivered the work to him. We’ve been friends ever since and he’s been my guiding light and mentor.
Painting helped me to keep my sanity. My marriage of four decades fell apart. I came up with a business scheme to document artists and in the process of developing it met a young man who always wanted to be an artist and instead, went into the family business. He hired me and we continued to work on the plans for the online artist directory.
Jeff Wotton, reminds me so much of my dad. In fact, if my dad were alive, those two would be fast friends. Jeff helped me to breakup house and helped me move and so much more. Then, one day, he called me into the conference room to help him interview a woman for the graphic design position that had become available.
He said he would appreciate my assistance because the woman was more my age. Okay. What he really said was the, “she’s old like you.” I liked her immediately. It was on a totally on a professional basis. We had similar experiences in advertising in the days of “wax and razor blades” but, she had an excellent background and worked a big market or, more professional level than I ever did. So I recommended that Jeff hire her.
My divorce was just two-months old. I had no idea what was going to happen next. The summer before, I went to Portugal to visit my mother and step-father. They’re both in their nineties. I fell in love with the place and decided it was a good place to start over.
Meanwhile, the new graphic designer, Paula Batchelor, was just a good person to speak to about absolutely everything except our private lives, as we did our client work almost side-by-side in the same office. I soon discovered that I dreaded the end of the workday and couldn’t wait for the new workday to come just because she would be there. There was no other kind of attraction except perhaps intellectually. But, something was happening to me emotionally.
Meanwhile, my friends Stephen Fuller and his wife Lourdes down in Miami had found a way to get me a contract teaching a workshop at the Perez Art Museum. I wanted to take the opportunity to visit some of the art galleries while there. So, I asked Paula to design some post cards and business cards for me.
She encouraged me and supported me and, while texting each other during my trip to and from Miami, I discovered that here was a person that I was becoming very fond of. The worst part was that I had already made plans to immigrate to Portugal. I had shipped what was left of my earthly goods. What was I going to say, “Hey, I’m falling in love with you but I’m going away – bye!” I couldn’t shake the feeling and wanted no regrets. I told her the day before I left the country. She said, “Hey, I’m falling in love with you but you’re going away and I thought that was it.”
Paula visited me in Portugal a few months after I arrived. I had my studio set up and was painting and looking for a gallery and had no idea what the next day would bring. We went for a long walk into the center of Figueira da Foz. I had not been as happy as I was that day and at that moment for a long time! I ran through a quick set of scenarios and listened for the voice of reason. Not one disparaging word, so I proposed to Paula. She accepted.
The white noise or energy that I sometimes imagine I’m picking up on or channeling when I paint can perhaps be described as intuitive. The intuition is sometimes very present in the studio. It speaks simply: stop, go back, this color or, push back – fight!
The good Art comes from this feeling of connectedness. But, I don’t know what I’m plugged into; if it’s one source or many. Is it cosmic consciousness? The way in which some of my images materialize often baffles me as does how my life evolved.
Posted on: 27/11/2017, by : Ron Fortier