Life as an Artist: It Began with Geese.

I began painting rather unceremoniously; one summer afternoon in 2007, a few months after receiving my BA in German from UAH, my mother asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my day. I said I wanted to do a painting in oils. My grandfather, whom I admire greatly, was a sculptor, and my mother's family is rather artistic in general, but I was not in the habit of painting or drawing at the time. I had no particular reason for wanting to paint that afternoon except that I tend to like to keep myself busy with something or another, but when I finished a painting of two white geese an hour later, I decided that my interest in the activity was strong enough that I wanted to do more than occasionally dabble in it. I then made a second, third, and fourth painting-- all depicting birds, because I kept thinking about different ways to portray flight, vitality, and the symbolism that birds have carried throughout the centuries.
I brought my work to the attention of Mrs. Diana Henry (my former high school art teacher) at Artistic Minds Gallery in Monrovia, AL and hosted a one-woman show there titled "Birds" a few months later. [In the image below, I am at the opening night reception. My former German professor (also one of my great mentors), Dr. Peter Meister, is holding up a postcard of his favorite work in the show beside the original painting.]
From there, I decided to spend some time doing color/composition experiments, developing a color chart of my own, and reading more about my favorite artists (including El Greco, Kandinsky, Marc, and Cezanne). I dedicated several months to painting in my private studio and doing volunteer work at the Huntsville Museum of Art with curatorial services. I traveled to Germany for an extended stay and researched Kandinsky and Marc extensively, visiting the places they loved and lived in, and museums housing their works.
I did not focus on seeking venues for my paintings at the time, but did enter works in the "Unique Views of Huntsville" competition held by the Huntsville Art League at the museum. So far, my work has been juried into the show two years in a row, 2008 and 2009. [Below: Two of my works at the Huntsville Museum of Art, "Night Stroll in the Park" and "Bridge over Ditto Landing".]
December of 2008 and much of 2009 were spent in Montreal, Canada, where I attended McGill University to pursue further courses in German literature and culture. I assumed I would still have plenty of time for as much painting as I wanted to do, and also that I would find an adviser willing to help me write a thesis on Kandinsky using the materials I had gathered in German-- unfortunately, this was not to be! My schedule at my new home was far too chaotic for a reserved lover of otium cum dignitate such as myself, and my project found few willing supporters, so I returned to Huntsville, AL. Even so, I learned many things while living in a bustling city in French Canada, and was still able to complete a few canvases. [Below: A newly finished painting in my Montreal apartment, beside the building that inspired it.]
Upon returning to Huntsville, I was featured in the Huntsville Art Blog, was able to set up a month-long show at the Huntsville Art League gallery, and will begin teaching classes for HAL as well (a series of talks on art history and a Creativity/Abstraction workshop). [Below: My mother takes pictures at the HAL gallery before the opening night reception.]
With that, we come to today, and new canvases are drying on my table or walls each day. I enjoy painting because it is a pleasant creative activity, but more importantly, I find it to be meaningful. The sincerity, intelligent boldness, and spirit I see in particularly fine works of art, the wordless communication, the dedication and craftsmanship, are such a source of fascination to me that I often contemplate writing a book on the philosophy of art (. . . and perhaps, as 2010 progresses, so I shall!)

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