Friday, January 17, 2014

A New Beginning
I have a story.....why does that not surprise anyone? When I was in school there was an exhibit of modern masters that went on display at UT. The greatest artists of the last half of the 20th century were represented and it was wonderful for a small town girl who'd lived a very insular life. This was my first time being exposed to art of this caliber. I was fascinated by all of it but utterly blown away by a painting by Joseph Raffael. The colors, the mixing, the brushstroke and most of all the glorious, not by accident drips made me want to devour this painting. My eyes and mind were opened and I was so moved. My two art professors took time about going back to the gallery with me just to see my reaction.

On that day, I was introduced to a world I hadn't known existed. Flash forward and for most of my adult life, I've been able to make my living in creative fields. The only problem with that was that although creative, it wasn't really art. I worked to please the buyers, the gallery owners, the manufacturers. I worked to make money. I'm not complaining, at least I was doing something I enjoyed but I think I burnt out on it because I wasn't doing what I wanted to do and I certainly wasn't being true to myself.

For the past ten years, I've been searching creatively but the primary goal has still been making money. For the last year, I've been doing something that I dearly hate. I lost my best friend last summer. We'd been friends since we were children. As she lay dying, she asked me about what I was doing and then asked, "Do you enjoy that?" Such an odd question to ask and I answered her quickly and honestly, "No, not at all." She then asked, "Well, why are you doing it then?" That should have been enough to set me on another path but it took several other people, including strangers, asking me the exact same question before I finally realized that someone was trying to tell me something.

I decided this year that I would take that creative leap and throw myself fully into my art....and as one of my professors used to say, "Art for art's sake." I'd come to the conclusion that if I wasn't making any money doing what I hated, well why not not make any money doing something I loved, something that means something to me. Even at 58, I feel as if I'm at a beginning this year. I don't know that great art will come out of it but I do think I will be better for the attempt.

Now, for the rest of the story. A friend knew that I loved the work of Joseph Raffael and she told me that he'd put up several videos of himself working on YouTube. Of course I watched them right away and I did something that I never do, I commented. I told him about that exhibit and his specific painting that had opened up an entirely new world to me so many years ago. And here is the surprise, Mr. Raffael looked me up and wrote me back! He's written me several times since then and his words are so wise and so inspiring. It doesn't seem like a coincidence to me that the artist who caused such an epiphany to occur in my life nearly 40 years ago has reappeared now and in such a touching and personal way. I think it is that someone telling me again that I'm on the right path. And what do I intend to learn on this path? Tons of things I'm sure about technique and process but mostly, a lot about myself.

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