Toward the end of my one year stay in the cabin I enrolled at the University of Idaho and began my formal study of art. I took drawing classes and started learning the rudiments of oil painting.
An early influence was the work of Rockwell Kent whose work I discovered in the local library. I was fascinated by what I assumed was woodcut, although Kent worked primarily in pen and ink making the occasional wood engraving. But his strong composition and stark contrast deeply impressed me. Above all I was fascinated by Kent’s adventurous life. Later I would purchase a printing press and begin my own adventure illustrating in New York City.
The artist’s life seemed infused with vibrant potential. I look back with nostalgia on that era. There were many things I didn’t know about an art career, that there are many factors outside an artist’s control, that the economy can create seemingly insurmountable obstacles, that the tastes and fashions of the art world can present frustrating challenges.
Strangely, it was a recent trip over the Sierra Nevadas to San Francisco and down the San Joaquin Valley that sparked my introspection and rumination on my artistic roots. As I passed through a region of lush green foothills sprinkled with majestic outcroppings of rock I remembered an earlier phase where I painted large acrylic paintings on stretched watercolor paper mounted on plywood. My favorite motifs were rocks covered with moss and lichens.
I recalled other periods where I sculpted, painted in watercolor, created science-fiction book covers, illustrated children’s books, wrote and drew alternative comic books, animated television shows, and of course, painted landscapes with strokes of thick oil paint.
I undertook all these projects with a sense of adventure. That sense of adventure is perhaps what I like most about the artistic life. Through it all my most persistent ambition has been to paint the landscape. Yet currently I find very little air beneath my wings. So for the next year I have decided to set aside oil painting and begin a new project. This project will be of a more commercial nature but ultimately designed to reinvigorate my painting career. If all goes well I will return to the Thick Paint blog revitalized and ready to create new videos and blog entries chronicling larger, more energetic paintings. Although I will not be making new blog entries or videos for a year I will monitor comments and continue to answer questions.
I look forward to sharing what I learn in the coming year. I hope you will rejoin me in March 2012.
PS- March has come and gone and I still haven’t finished my commercial project. The best estimate now is a June 1, 2013 for a return to painting. Wish me luck!