Friday, March 25, 2011

About Mellowing

I got some comeuppance recently when a friend handed me a copy of a statement about my work that I had written more than twenty years ago. I expected to find it wanting. After all, I am older and wiser now. I would like to think I can do everything better now. But no, I liked it. It wasn’t bad at all. I could use it now with minimal revision. There was a photo of a much younger me in  a newspaper clipping along with the statement. No way do I look better now.

I discuss this experience of aging with my peers and usually get an upbeat or at least a serene acceptance of reality as a response. Does anything get better as we grow older? Well, for one thing, I am more accepting of my own foibles. I figure that I’ve gotten away with being who I am for all these years, no need to fret over making improvements now. Am I a better painter? Well, I certainly know a lot more about making a painting look as I want it to. I remind my self of Titian and my old friend Richard, painting with power almost twenty years beyond the age I am at now.

I have just finished selecting slides to do a presentation and talk as part of a series of six artists doing the same. I will be the last. It was clear that there was development and learning and major advances in each of the retrospective slide shows already presented. What I see as I look at my own selection of images, past and current, is that there is a coolness now that wasn’t present when I was younger. A clarity and definition that wasn’t there before. The earliest work looks a little vague. Then it becomes very much alive and a little out of control. Kind of impassioned and unstructured. Maybe a little confused but quite vital. And coming to the present a richness and serenity set in.

I no longer struggle with a painting. The enjoyment of the process is greater. I know what I want and how to go for it. I am closer to the unattainable perfection I want and happy not to reach it. The work parallels the life.  So alright, old age ain’t so bad. What I saw when I looked at those early paintings was that, yes, I can do better now.

The image above is Valentine, ©1987, acrylic and pastel on etching paper, 48” x 60”. 


  1. The image is so beautiful...and your blog "Mellowing" is so perfect for this painting.

    As always, thank you so much for your words, they are always an inspiration to read.

    There is beauty in understanding through the ages.

  2. Thanks, Terry. Yup, no stopping the march of time. Might as well get in step with it.