I believe in the power of paintings.
The first time I sold a painting was in my senior year of college at the university flea market. It was a small watercolor of a purple and blue iris and the girl that bought it told me it would go perfect with her dorm room. This was to become the start of my journey in life.
When I was growing up and the world was pure as children see it, I fell in love with paintings and art. Art was the ultimate manifestation of beauty. It was magic wrought from nothing and given to man to do amazing things. Even now I am still trying to define what that means.
And here I was a recent graduate of art school with 4 years of experience making art, but unclear how to make a living. They never taught that lesson in my art school. It was an unspoken act. Almost dirty. Art was pure, and not to be sullied by the banality of “earning a living.”
At the time, I felt that way too, but I had parental expectations to fulfill. So I became a traveling salesman. I travelled from New York to New Orleans reconciling the ephemeral beauty of making art with the realities of life. Its heartbreaking to watch your art stop being magical and instead become a mundane commodity. Make a painting, sell the painting, pay your bills. I even gave up the art game for two years and thought about becoming a teacher.
Seven years, over a thousand paintings sold and gone, a master’s degree in education, and 95,000 miles on my pickup truck later, I’m still selling paintings.
Here’s where my story gets interesting.
In 2008 I won a national art competition about the change, hope and idealism embodied in Barack Obama. My painting of then Senator Obama received national recognition, went to Denver for the DNC and was auctioned off for charity. I suddenly became slightly famous. Phone calls from strangers, congratulatory emails and media interviews made clear what exactly happened to me. I lucked out at a time when I was working harder then ever. The definition of opportunity.
I am still the same itinerant peddler, but I think I found a bit of the magic I lost before. My best selling paintings don’t depict sensual women or bottles of wine. They show impressions of Einstein, Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Obama. The figures that represent the best that people have to offer the world. My new best-selling print shows koi fish swimming in a peace symbol. The pthalo blue dominated image is my best effort yet to express beauty, serenity, and above all else, hope.
In times such as these when so many people are uncertain of the future, I am amazed that people embrace the beauty and hope that I try to depict. That in itself is a miracle to me. That in itself is part of the power of paintings.
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