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Thursday, March 11 2010
Strayed Path

Sorry this is so long, you can just look at the painting and skip the tome. I promise there won't be a quiz. I do think the story helps to explain it a bit.

Some time back, a few years now, I had just experienced the breakup and loss of a true love.  During the ruminating over my past I went back over how I became a painter and when did I start working to be a painter. Although I had always been a child that drew constantly it wasn't a career. I went to a small community college more because my mother insisted than any other reason. Since I had always drawn she got me into a program of art and advertising. The art classes there were not much more or even as good as most that are in any high school now.

I graduated and went to work for the New York Library System, as an illustrator, but was really not much more than a printing press operator. I was living at home and had a large bedroom with a sort of studio/office in it. I was there one weekend night, alone in the house. I found some old paints of my mother's that were mostly dried up and an old canvas board about 16 x 20 inches. I had an easel I brought back from college so I decided I should paint something to show I was really an artist. My parents always billed me as this trained painter now with a job in the art industry. Wow, what a stretch.

I remember going through the tubes of paint and finding there were only two tubes, burnt umber and yellow ochre still soft enough to use. The only medium I had was turpentine. I set up the canvas on the easel and stood back to think of what to paint. Remember, this was the 60's. The art world was allover the place, but, it always is. At that age, I was 20; I decided in order to be an artist I must be tragic.

Well, I was, sort of. I wasn't in school any more; I was living at home and working in a boring job making very little money. I was stick in my hometown where the social life was limited to bowling or going to country music bars. Neither of which were something I could bring myself to do. I had no one in my life to really think about and knew I had to get out but didn't know how.

I guess I was tragic after all. I just started painting. What I did was this dark tree on the left with one branch. Below the branch was a big hole in the ground. Standing over this was a figure looking into this hole with complete despair. This was all done in just the deep yellow and the dark brown. All sort of abstract and no very good. No, really bad. That was my one evening as an artist and never did go back to it. It sat on that easel for a very long time and then next thing I knew I was being drafted into the military. Well, things did change.

So, here I was sitting in front of another easel, nearly 40 years later feeling the pain of the loss of a woman I adored. The only difference was I had a lifetime of experiences and I was a better painter. (I hope) I had just finished my painting, "Alone with Thoughts." (see my last post)

I put up a stretched canvas and went to work using my swirly style of painting. I wanted the same basic composition but with a bit more skill and color. What you see here is the result of one long night of painting. I thought of it as nothing more than a release and a sort of tribute to my start as a painter.

A week or so later I had my grandsons over for the night. They were, at the time, 5 and 9 years old. They always liked to see what I had been painting and always had an opinion. My youngest, Evan, sometimes asked why I painted so many naked women. He thought it was disrespectful. Yes, he was only 5! It did make me think. My older, Michael, was the deep thinker both then and now. He is a very sensitive young man. He stood and stared at my new painting and asked me what the name of it was. They always liked to name the paintings. I told him I didn't have a name yet. He took a few more moments and then said, "I think you should name it Strayed Path." Why, I asked. He replied it looked as if the person in the painting had lost his way and didn't know where to go.

From the mouth's of babes. It did make me think and I was amazed he could see that much in there. I don't know if that is a tribute to my painting skills or just darn lucky with a very observant young man. I think the latter is more likely.

I did recover and moved on with my life. The painting is still around and when I look at it now, I don't think so much of my depression at that time or the woman that caused it. I don't even think much of the reason or the origin. I really only think of my grandson now 16 and somehow he is connected to me now and is a part of who I was way back when I was 20 sitting in my room alone and wondering what to do with my life than. I know he will suffer much of the same in time, as we all do.  Still ponder that but I like to think I have learned a great deal of life.

I still paint women and my youngest grandson, now 13, still can't understand why. I have a feeling that is the one thing that will change.

Posted by: John Entrekin AT 10:22 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
I love the painting, and your grandson's observation, and the story. The painting really does carry the gesture of someone who has given up, and yet the colors all around him, even shining on him, the painter sees beyond the pain, and paints that too. I love the light in this. And the posture is something everyone can relate to, a place one doesn't want to be in, but everyone has been there.
Posted by Cathering Vibert on 03/11/2010 - 12:04 PM

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