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A Lit Path

A Recent photo taken at sunrise as I was walking my pup Gillespie.


It’s been an interesting Fall, in a good way. When the path as an artist is dimly lit or the lights keep flickering along the path, perhaps it is time to change the bulb. It was time to see where I was going in a new light, time to see myself in a new light. I guess this applies to whatever path you’re on, artistic or not.


Throughout our lives at any given time, we can find ourselves along a path we wanted to traverse or on one so far away from the one we dreamed of, but most of the time, we are actually strolling on a path somewhere in between. I do find traveling a path a more appropriate metaphor for life’s choices, than say, a maze. Our time is linear. Unfortunately, there’s no backtracking, or do overs, at least not in the sense that we can trace our steps backwards and start again. Yes, the path you’re on can, and inevitably does, change direction but you’re always facing forward. And yes, you can start a new path, but it also comes with all the knowledge gained from your previous travels. None the less, you are slowly moving from point A to B, B to C, etc. Perhaps you are wistfully dreaming about what could have been, just like the poem by Robert Frost, “The Path not Taken”. Well, the path is not always clear or clearly lit yet each moment is a step, one foot in front of the other, day by day, on this journey to somewhere, you just don’t know where yet. Then there are other paths you can see exactly where you’re going.


It’s no bold statement saying “we’re not the people we were 5, 10, 15, years ago.” Obviously then, the same applies to our creative spirit. What I thought art and being an artist was when I was 25 is certainly different than how I feel about it now that I’m 52. Of course, with age comes experience, and with expertise comes mastery. Again, this can be applied to just about anything in your life.


Let’s keep to the lit path metaphor, in regards to creating art. For me, my process for a piece has always been to explore a particular idea, do a little research, work up some sketches, then render a piece in whatever medium. This usually results in paintings that are one-offs, meaning that when I’m done with that particular piece, it’s on to the next idea. I’ve worked that way for the better portion of the last 25 years. While some of my ideas were similar in scope and style, they were pieces unique unto themselves.


The Tragedy ( Blue Period), 1903

By Pablo Picasso

Oil on wood


Now, for a moment, think Picasso; there was his cubist period, his blue period, his red period, etc. He worked for a couple of years on the same method and themes to create a body of work, or a series. Maybe a more relatable analogy would be of a musician or band that created and released an album. The songs all have a style and feel that are a part of a group or collection. I’ll assume you’ve heard of the Beatles; Rubber Soul has a completely different sound than Let It Be.


Les Demoiselle d'Avignon ( Cubist Period), 1907

By Pablo Picasso

Oil on Canvas


When the world shut down during the pandemic, I had nothing but time. Everything was closed or open at a limited capacity. Paint and sip classes were virtual and few and far between. When I was in school filling in for those who had succumb to COVID, classes were also virtual, so all I had to do is make sure the 3 kids I had in class logged in on their computers. I took my sketch book to school and over the course of any given school day was able to develop drawings. Those sketches were later further developed into the Lyrically Painted series created from 2020 to 2022. Alas, a twist in my creative path, a series of paintings all with a central theme composed by arranging fairly recognizable images and symbols. I imagined it in a way a song writer would arrange lyrics to a song. There are a dozen 12” x 16” pieces based on this principle. Actually, there’s 4 or 5 more drawings I may finish later designated for this series.


Raven, Pisces, and the Promise of Night (Lyrically Painted Series). 2020

By Bobby Padilla

Oil on canvas, 12"x16"


Shirt printed from my painting above


Up next, I plan to finish a couple of one-offs, then I plan to work on a series of collages. I’ll save more about that for a future post, or as I finish pieces. I’ve always had a fondness for collage, but it was always a component within a piece, not the sole emphasis. And to anyone who thinks collage is just cut and paste and somehow easier than actual painting, you’d be wrong. In fact, it’s actually more labor intensive. Hours of scrutiny thumbing through old books and magazines to source images, then carefully X-acto-ing out those images and tactfully arranging and gluing those items down to illustrate an idea or concept.


Jammin at the Savoy, 1982

By Romare Bearden

Collage, 22"x30"


Evening, 9:10 461 Lenox Ave, 1986

By Romare Bearden

Collage, 18"x24"


Still, my illuminated path to being an artist has flickered over the years. I have worked in a creative field since I was 26, even if it was a low rung on the creative ladder. I always saw myself as an artist, even when no one else did. What is a working artist these days? Selling art through a gallery, sure, but for 90% of artists, that not realistically going to get your bills paid. Social media has made it so much easier to get your work recognized without a gallery or agent involved. And if your savvy enough to create your own private marketplace you can sell your art directly to anyone, cutting out the middleman. Still, you have to ask yourself, “What constitutes as being an artist?”


Did you create art if no one sees it? Are you a poet if no one reads your poetry? Are you an actor if you’ve never been in film or on stage? In your mind you might be, but in the end, you want to be acknowledged as such by others.


Made for a Party, 1936

By Hannah Hoch

Collage

I’ve had little victories over of the years. An exhibition here and a profitable festival there. Then, came Roc Paint Sip. Building a business with a mission to make lasting memories via painting. I’ve had the opportunity to teach studio art in high school, even if it was in a limited capacity as a long-term substitute. The fact of the matter is, I am an artist/educator.


My path, this Fall, included being offered an opportunity by University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery to teach art. Not only am I teaching basic painting and drawing, but was asked to write curriculum for a class on what is at the heart of what I do as an artist, surrealism and symbolism. Anyone that says you don’t need affirmation in your life, is full of shit. You can believe in yourself all you want, but every once in a while, you need to feel avowed by the masses. You need to know others see you as you see yourself. Having one of the finest art institutions in upstate New York review and see value in your art and want you to teach others how to do it is just the affirmation this artist needed.


Honestly, I don’t know how long this section of the path will be lit but I know one thing, the light isn’t flickering, that bulb has been replaced and now the light is clear and bright.


Signs, 1970

By Robert Rauschenberg

Collage


The path is long and at times arduous. You meet people along your way that walk with you awhile, some that just take a couple of steps. If you’re lucky enough you may find an individual that walks the path with you for as long as you’re on it. There’s successes and failures, doubt and confidence, and everything in between. There’s little promise of a golden destination, because everyone’s destination is different. There are, however, points along the path where you feel that you’ve arrived, even if it’s just for a moment. More often than not, this is a sensation felt in your soul and not your wallet, such is the anthem for any creative person.


So, this Fall, at this moment, I feel a sense of belonging. I’ve arrived somewhere, but I don’t know where or how long I’m going to be here. Right now, I’m booking a steady flow of paint and sip classes, and I am designing and teaching creative workshops for the Memorial Art Gallery. I’ve begun to dabble in merchandising my work in the form of clothing, prints, and stickers, etc. I have a plan for my next series of work. I am a working artist, perhaps of the blue-collar variety, but none the less. So, without further ado, down the path I go.

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