“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Today’s post is about my past and about thoughts of my future.
My painting, “Audrey at ten” was painted either in 1990 or 1991 and is a portrait of my daughter Audrey.When I was almost finished with this painting,my friend Lee Brubaker visited my studio in Glendale Missouri and made the comment that this was one of my best paintings.He said I should remember what I had done with this painting and do more paintings in this manner.This wasn’t Lee’s exact words but my impression of what he said.The day of his visit to my studio Lee had ridden his bicycle and complained of recent back pains. Lee died of cancer within a year of his visit to my studio.
Last Friday, May 18,my wife Carolyn and I went to The Alumni Reception at the Kemper Art Museum,which was in conjunction with Reunion 2012. The Kemper Museum is part of the Sam Fox School which is located on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. I saw and talked with classmates Peter Shank and Steve Blives,my high school teacher Jeannine Cook, Carl Hermann, an artist I worked with at Maritz and a friend,Mary Borgman who I had met about twenty years ago at a painting class attended by professional illustrators.After about three years Mary and I had both stopped going to this class and I didn’t see her again for a few years and then saw her dropping off one of her large portrait drawings at the St. Louis Artists Guild.I saw her again several years after that when she began teaching at Meramec Community College. Mary teaches drawing at Washington University and is a nationally recognized portrait artist.I asked her if she had any gallery shows coming up and she said her work would be on display at the National Portrait Gallery in a show titled “Portraiture Now:Drawing on the Edge”. She asked me what I was doing/working on,I don’t remember her exact words,and I said something like I’m creating all the time. Later I began to think about my answer and why I was not happy with my answer.
Here’s the purpose of this blog post. I remember the first time I met Mary, which would have been in the late 1980’s.I was attending an informal painting class attended by some of the best St. Louis illustrators, including Lee Brubaker,Bill Vann,Don Kueker,Richard Bernal and sometimes Ken Dowd. I was sitting on a “wooded horse” ready to paint, before the Model began posing and this woman comes up and gets close to my face and says something like “It’s the great John Dyess or the famous John Dyess” and then introduces herself. That was the first time I had met Mary Borgman. The reason I mention this is, it’s now the famous Mary Borgman and I had a vague answer last Friday to Mary’s question “what am I doing”.
I thought about this last weekend and here’s my answer. I’m doing what artist do.I’m creating visual images. The difference now is that my images are not assignments from commercial clients,they are not even for gallery shows,they are created for the joy of creating. I’ve had a successful career illustrating, I have taught ,since the 1970’s, at Washington University,Webster University,Jefferson Junior College and now Meramec Community College. I have had my share of national and local art awards and my work has been printed in national magazines which includes every major outdoor fishing and hunting magazine. I can’t answer for Mary but I think she also is creating for the joy of it.
Artists like to eat and have a place to live like other humans so we have to make money creating,however I think we also have to have time to play. I will be sharing in my next blog posts the images I created this week while playing.
I feel blessed to have known talented creative people like Mary Borgman and others like Lee Brubaker ,Don Kueker,Richard Brunell ,Ken Dowd,Jason Dowd,Herb Rose,Bob Shay,Rip Kastaris,Mike Smit, my wife Carolyn and many others. I have also been blessed to have been pain free and still have the strength and passion to create.
This week I also read and online article by my friend Tim Carson, who is the pastor at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia ,Missouri which applies to what I have been thinking about this week. His weekly post is called Wednesday Wonder.