The Reluctant Artist

The Reluctant Artist

I was a reluctant artist, but deep down, I knew I was meant to create. I had been drawing and painting for as long as I could remember, and even though my father didn't believe I could make a living as an artist, my mother always saw something special in me.

Early in my career, I had finished a new painting, in a new style, and was very pleased with the results. So excited about the work, I told my wife that I wanted to get it professionally framed. I’d never had a painting framed by a framer before. We could never afford it, so I never considered it. Delighted and moved by the piece, my wife agreed with the framing idea.

The new work was in a controlled, primitive-like, brushstroke style I previously only used in simple commercial illustrations. Inspired by a brushstroke illustration one day, I was motivated to create a full-scale painting on canvas. So, I did. Still inspired, I wanted to frame the painting to enhance and show off its beauty. I wanted a green mat to frame the work I had painted on canvas board and a pale-yellow metal frame to encase the piece.

When it came time to take the painting to the frame shop, my eight-year-old daughter and I mounted our bikes (Because I don’t drive. That’s a long story for another time that will probably never come). With helmets on our heads and the painting, wrapped in brown paper, under my arm, we peddled down the road.

As we rode along the loop trail that meandered along the river, I went up and over the hill, out of sight of my daughter, trailing a bit behind me. When she came up over the hill, she found me lying on my back with the brown paper package held up in the air in my left arm, with my bike lying along the grassy edge of the paved path. She thought I was dead.

After cresting the hill, I was approaching a curve and needed to slow down. Holding the painting under my left arm, and steering with my righthand, I needed to let go of the handlebar and reach across to the left side to squeeze the front brake. Intending to grasp the brake gently, I hastily grabbed it tightly causing the bike to stop suddenly sending me headfirst over the curved, ten-speed handlebars.

After a few days, my wife and I picked up the artwork from the frame shop. I hung the painting on the wall prominently in our dining room and admired the professional look the frame brought to the artwork. One day, while I was out of the apartment, my wife took the painting off the wall and drove down to a new gallery that had recently opened across the river. She shared the work with the gallery owner, who was impressed by what she saw. My wife brought the artwork back home and hung it back on the wall. She told me that I would have a show at a certain gallery if I wanted it.

Not knowing what to say, I just stared at her with a confused look. I looked over at the painting hanging on the wall and thought about what she just shared with me. I never had a show in a gallery before. Never even sold any work. I’ve always created the work for the sake of the work, for my own satisfaction. I’ve never dreamed of showing or selling my artwork. Although there was a bit of excitement welling up inside of me, I still didn’t know what to say to her.

Reluctantly, I put together a body of work to be shown in the gallery across the river. Many things happened over the following weeks.  I went down to the local newspaper to be interviewed and to give them some professional photographs of my work. I didn’t have a headshot of myself for them to use in the article. They had a staff photographer take a few photographs. Feeling a little less reluctant, my wife and I also got a couple of my paintings into a small gallery in a distant city.

The photo of my work that the editor chose to print with the article was the only piece to sell in my show at the gallery across the river. It also happened to be one of the works on display at the gallery in the distant city. What were we to do?

Knowing the buyer was eager to pick up the painting, my wife and I drove three hours over the mountains to the distant city, got the artwork from the small gallery, and drove three hours back home over the mountains. The buyer, a local pediatrician, was delighted to receive the painting she had only seen in the newspaper article.

Over the years, I have had many, many shows, at many, many galleries, and alternative venues across the country. And all the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the successes and setbacks, and all of the work I have created, shown, and sold, started at that small gallery across the river. Yet, I have many, many milestones to reach, and many, many goals to conquer. So, I will continue to share my art with the world with an ever-growing gratitude and purpose as a not so reluctant artist.

Back to blog

Leave a comment