Challenge

Throughout one's life a person usually faces a fair amount of emotional turmoil. Divorce, the death of friends and relatives, good fortune as well as bad, and depression and anxiety all play roles in our development.

In the year 2000, I had a crisis, as many men due around the age of 53 which I was then. Amongst other things it revolved around a dissatisfaction with my career, a cross riff with my wife's personal crisis, and a resolve to push my career to new heights.

Both my wife, Barbara, and I knew that I needed help from a professional, so I contact the psychiatrist I had met with during my separation and subsequent divorce from my first wife. He said he would be glad to take me on.

North Wayne Avenue - acrylic on canvas - 8" x 10"
I conveyed my story to him over a period of weeks or months, and besides providing me with medication to deal with my anxieties, he also proscribed that I go back to painting. Though during the 1990s I had painted 9 theatres, I was still building a business as well as a kitchen, bathrooms, fences and other necessary items for our home, and didn't have much personal time to paint pictures except on a couple of vacations in Maine.

So when my wife unexpectedly went on a fishing trip to Montauk, I found my paints and headed outside to paint my 1953 MG-TD. When she came back from her trip, which gave her a feeling of independence, she saw that I had used my time constructively, plus I had a completed a plein air painting of my car. Instead of being upset and panicked, I was calm and more relaxed.

If the weather was fair, I would go out at least once on a weekend to paint and not come home until I had created something I was proud of. Soon Barbara was willingly bringing me lunch on a street corner or in a field near our home, and as the months wore on, I began finding my way back to sanity, my wife, and my life.

John's Market - acrylic on canvas - 9" x 12"
During this period, I mostly painted scenes near my home since travel added to the time I had to complete a painting. Sometimes I would paint from my car if it was raining, or my dining room window, if it was snowy. I could usually complete a painting in 3-1/2 to 4 hours, but sometimes a small painting could take 7.

My wife suggested during this time that I concentrate on painting Radnor, and that led to a show in February 2005 at a township owned building, The Willows, featuring 75 Radnor paintings, plein air and studio, in many sizes. I also included 20 paintings of St. John, created on vacations to the Caribbean island.

Using my model of partnering with non-profit groups, I collaborated and shared profits with the Radnor High School Scholarship Fund. The February date was challenging, since  bad weather could threaten attendance. I watched as the week before we suffered a crippling snow storm. Fortunately, the Sunday planned for the show was clear and bright, and nearly 300 people showed up for the event.

Wintergreen - acrylic on canvas - 24" x 36"
To publicize the event, the Scholarship Fund made sure that every child bring a flyer home in his or her book bag. The local newspapers seemed to gravitate to the concept and produced full page stories on the show. So like a person that wins a trifecta on his first time to the race track, I had a success. With sponsorships I had solicited and a large percentage of the proceeds, the Scholarship Find brought in more than $24,000 (which included before and after sales), and I had begun building a name for myself as an artist, rather than and advertising man.


Click to Chapter 13: Memories of the Open Road – Lost & Found