I'm a newbie at painting on canvas. For several years I collaborated with Wild Bill Tick Tock on painted wood constructions. We called them story doors and they were a hit. I also tried my hand at painting pots. They did well too. But Bennie kept saying, "Hey, you have a way with color. I'll bet you could do some nice work on canvas." And yes, I'd been privately tempted. So in the spring of 2005 I got together a rather small body of work and with great trepidation, hung half a dozen paintings at our gallery. For a couple of weeks, nothing happened. People walked right by. My paintings were invisible.
Then one day a man strolled in. He was one of those quiet people, the kind who takes his time and looks at everything in the gallery quite seriously. I sat at the desk, hesitant to disturb his looking, wondering which artist he might take interest in. Would it be one of Albert's skyscapes that caught his fancy? Maybe one of Laura's jaw-dropping realist paintings? Could it be a Wild Bill Tick Tock or a light-suffused interior by Mimi? When he turned around and said very casually, "Tell me about this San Merideth," I was stunned.
I got up and began babbling like an idiot. Now, when it comes to those other artists, I have spiels--they're sincere spiels, but they're rather practiced deliveries, polished from years--count my gray hairs--of experience selling art. I didn't know what to say about my own paintings. So he did it for me. "Would you consider a little better price were I to take three?" I liked what he had to say! He just wanted a modest courtesy discount for a multiple purchase and I was happy to oblige. Turned out he was an architect with a prestigious firm in Dallas--he didn't brag on himself like this--I googled him after he left--and he wanted my paintings for his very own home!
The paintings each measured 24 inches by 24 inches and their titles, from left to right, are "Irresistible Impulse," "Primal Identity," and "Messages from Undersea." (Now that the images are loaded, they're overlapping, at least on my browser, but they can be enlarged individually.) As someone once remarked, "You have to come up with catchy titles after you paint them." You don't really have to, but titles seem to serve as doors into paintings. Many people find abstract imagery inaccessible, and titles sometimes provide an entryway of sorts.
I've been lucky since that time. I've sent my paintings to L.A. and Seattle and New Orleans and Miami and Omaha, among a bunch of other places. (I have a map in my head and enjoy picturing my art on the walls in various locales. It's a spirit-booster on dark days.) They've been purchased by cardiologists and particle physicists and actuarial consultants. Twice they've been purchased by employees of art museums. I've been especially flattered when someone has elected to add a second and third painting down the way, after beginning with one. In these cases, I think: Yes, they enjoy my art enough to want more. Then my Shadow, the Doubting One, says: No, they're hoping to replace that disappointing one with something else. That's when I bribe my shadow with tickets to Cleveland. I figure if I can get my doubting, shadowy self far enough away, I might get some painting done.