When I moved to Port Townsend I met one of these people. I met someone whose work knocked me off my feet. I couldn't believe it. I had never seen work like this. It isn't that I wanted to paint that way but seeing that work I knew I could reach deeper. Along with it was fear. Part of me despaired that I could never be that good, that powerful and free in my work. Her work is so authentic, so unique. What I did come to really understand at a deeper level is that we have our own individual voices. No one can paint like you or like me. We are who we are and that is where we can really find our power as artists. This person has become a very dear friend and of course all we talk about it art and life. They are the same.
My days go so much faster than they ever did. Now getting to the studio is what matters most. I have simplified my life and have found myself spending less time with acquaintances. This sounds a bit arrogant but time is limited now and I have so much work to do. When I am not in the studio I am still in that place of my art. It rolls around in me all the time and needs space and focus. My artist friends know that and we can share that with each other. Now I cherish my artist friends more than ever. We go through similar challenges in our lives. We understand! My mentor, Adele Earnshaw taught me much about being a professional artist. We met in 1986. She was my first watercolor teacher. She is a world renowned painter. I respect her immensely. She has worked for years in the arena of wildlife art, in a man's world, and not only held her own but excelled. We have been are very close friends for almost 30 years. I count her as family. I learned a lot from her in those early days and I still do. One thing that she told me was to keep a list by my phone of excuses when someone ( non artist) calls and wants to go to lunch. "You don't have time for that! " Adele would say, "You have to paint!". She would call me and say, "Are you painting?". I learned the ropes of galleries, framing, marketing and discipline. Most of all she loved to say "Paint, Paint, Paint!!". I in turn have told that to my students for the last 30 years too! I have told her often and I know it is true that I would not be where I am without her support. Then there are those great artists whose work we love but never meet. I have been to museums all over the world. I have seen the work of those great dead painters and those great ones who still grace this planet with beauty and power in their images. I need to see that work. I need to know that I have a tribe. We need each other, no matter how that plays out. It raises the bar. It also keeps us humble.
I am so grateful to all the artists who have shared so much and made such amazing work and who have stayed true to themselves. I am grateful to have a tribe!
"The Last Roses", 2008