It’s A Sparkly or How I Learned to Love Being Manic
I had a teacher in college, over 30 years ago, who figured that I was going to be successful. He told me that it would take longer because I was pushing so many fronts at the same time. When your horizon is that broad, he explained, it takes a lot longer to move everything ahead versus being focused on one particular area, or niche. Well, I’m still waiting for that success. It hasn’t happened and I’m still all over the place. I think part of success is based on consistency and I am consistently inconsistent.
When my children were just wee tots, there was an animated film called the Secret of Nimh. I haven’t been too much of a fan of cartoon style movies for a long time now but this one caught my attention. It had a character, a crow named Jeremy that intrigued me (whose voice was done by the comedic actor Dom De Luise). Jeremy was constantly distracted during the adventure by various things and objects that caught his attention. He would be going along, get distracted and stop, and say “oooh, it’s a sparkly.” Well, that’s me! I seem to be constantly distracted by the sparklies, the new and different things that I encounter in my life.
The reason that I had (and still do have) such a broad artistic horizon is that I just can’t seem to focus on one specific (narrow) area in life and pursue it, or for that matter follow through on it. After all these years I’m not sure if that is a sad and pathetic thing or actually a good thing. There are just so many things in art to be interested in and so little time to explore all of the possibilities. When I think about all of the interesting things that life has to offer, it borders on being overwhelming. Something being overwhelming doesn’t necessarily stop me but constant trial and failure does wear me down and make me want to retreat from the world and my life. I know that I will cycle through it and greet my life with new enthusiasm and want to try new things. I just never seem to learn. Like Jeremy the Crow, the sparklies always catch my attention and distract me. The chemical imbalance in my brain that caused my disability also causes this attitude.
Over the course of my employment career I have sold commercial house paint and did custom paint tinting, I managed a hardware store and later an artist supply store. I have worked in a bakery and a small manufacturing firm building floor cleaning equipment. There was time in there to go live in a monastery to study theology and possibly to be come a priest. I have worked as a carpenter, a plumber, and worked doing plant facilities maintenance in industrial complexes. For a while I put siding on houses and then went on to sell building materials for a lumberyard. Later I switched to the printing industry. First on the pre-press-lithography end working as a paste-up artist and later doing film composition and color separations. After a hiatus of many years as a picture framer I returned to the printing industry doing customer service and sales work. I worked for 3 different printing shops before I ended up working in the financial aid office of a community college. It was there that my disability finally caught up and overcame me.
My artistic career has not been much different. There was my surrealist period, then going on to be an abstract expressionist. Later came color field painting and while I lived in NYC I had a gallery director call me a phenonmenologist (I still smile when I remember that). This was all followed by the conceptual art phase. After marriage and family I began to work realistically. That morphed into impressionism and that into expressionism and that into kind of, sort of, where I am now.
Gee, with a track record like that I just can’t figure out why success has eluded me. I say that, of course, tongue in cheek. My art and my life have been one very interesting ride. Sometimes it has scared the crap out of me but it has seldom been boring. The years and my disabilities have now worn me down but apparently I haven’t learned much from the experiences. My art is still all over the place, my life cycles between somewhat controllable periods of depression and mania, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (or if I want to grow up), and I’m still looking for the next “sparkly.”
The above pieces, like me, are all over the place. The long landscape is titled “Barn On A Grassy Hill.” It measures 12” X 30” and is done with oil pastel on a hardwood panel. The still life of 2 pears is done with soft pastel, conte crayon, and oil pastel on a hardwood panel and measures 9” X 12”. The nude is done with soft pastel, oil pastel, and oil paint on paper and measures 17.75” X 10”.