Thursday, 25 September 2014

Live to Paint What You Feel

  Choices are what artistic expression is all about. One can choose to paint as they see it, while another paints as they feel it. I can teach you to paint, but the real question is: Can I truly teach you how to paint? I don't believe I can. Here is why.

  As a child, I grew up getting scolded for doodling in school. Growing older, I kept the habit. In my earlier twenties this habit subsided and a new deadly one set in. I began drawing a calamitous future for myself each time I smoked a cigarette. It was 8 years ago the year 2006, that I remember going into the doctors for a physical. On that day I left feeling lost. The doctor looked at the family history of my mother and grandfather having cancer. She told me if I did not quit smoking cigarettes in 5 years I would be dead of cancer. Devastated, I told her to do whatever it took to aid me in quitting. So she did. She prescribed me chantix.

  It was just a few days after that I went to visit my grandmother who was also an artist. Her tiny hands clenched the paint brush as I visited her. A petite table top easel held her primed canvas. A wooded forest with a river running through it in front of a log cabin. Blue skies and deep green trees. A bear running to the flowing waters to fish for his supper while an eagle took flight above the skies. "Grandma will you teach me how to paint"?, I asked her. "No, I will not because you already know how. Put the cigarette down, put the brush in your hand, and paint what you feel." I listened to her while thoughts rushed through my head. Will I live to see this cabin by the river in 5 years? Or will I live to paint what I feel?

  I was fortunate enough to listen and take her advice. It was not the chantix that made me quit, it was my grandmother's words. I went home and produced a landscape piece where the eagles fly and I would go fishing in Manistee. It is boathouse called "Loomis Landing" where my friends and I would take a rest. In 2007 my grandmother fell ill with cancer. In 2009 she passed. I placed "Loomis Landing" under her tiny hands before they closed her casket and she safely guards that piece to this day.

  Relishing painting from my feelings, I continue to create each day. With a full range of styles and mediums I am not only able to express a world of cultures but also paint what I sense. I enjoy painting not photographing. Rather than a photograph I prefer a painting. It captures the heart and soul of each subject. My recommendation for those out there whom to learn to paint is the same advice that little Chippewa Indian grandmother of mine gave me: "Paint What You Feel".