This canvas was 2015 Father’s Day gift from my wife and daughter. It is 48×24″ in size. At the time I started it, I wanted to document the process of its creation. I wish I would do this more often with my paintings, but the spontaneity of their creations does not always lend itself to such breaks for photos? You can see that I initially toyed with the inclusion of some geometric shapes. This harkens back to a technique I engaged in quite frequently in my early paintings. As you can see from the completed painting I abandoned those shapes. This was a difficult choice. I did not care about their presence in the painting and I wasn’t sure how to eliminate them without destroying the rest of the painting.
I started to feel my confidence shaken. I was afraid I was not going to be able to find a way to resolve this little dilemma. After everyone in the house was asleep, I buckled down, spurred by a couple tasty beverages, while Amy Winehouse served as the soundtrack. This is the unintended pleasure I get with painting, the solitary experience. I like time to myself, always have. Painting in these solitary moments allows me to clear my head, to silent any irrelevant mindful preoccupations.
I purposely set out with these color choices in mind. They reflect colors associated with my youth. From 9 to 18 years of age the principle colors represented here were associated with an athletic organization that I participated in Oklahoma City. This organization was integral to the development of my self- esteem and confidence. I wasn’t originally from Oklahoma. I was born in California and every summer I would live out there with my loving but alcoholic father. When I would come back to Oklahoma for the school year I never really felt like I fit in. I was for sometime quite the shy kid. It didn’t help that I was also a poor kid being raised by a single mother. My mother signed me up for baseball and football when we first moved to Oklahoma City as a way to integrate me with kids my age. I proved to be an above average athlete and this lessened my feelings of being an outsider. For me, the athletic field was a true meritocracy, where my background didn’t matter. On the field, social class divisions had little influence on how I imagined I was being judged. It was one of the smartest moves by my mother. It immensely assisted my adjustment to my parents divorce and our subsequent move to this place that was so culturally removed from what I was used to.
My successes on the field instilled in me a confidence I think I carry to this day, be it my unlikely pursuit of a career in academia or now painting. I don’t want to leave the impression that I don’t I still suffer the pangs of self-doubt. I do. I think my wife and some of those who know me best would say this is the most contradictive part of me. But, this too points to why I enjoy painting so much, particularly abstract painting. It stimulates me to engage in self-reflection, be it my present or as this story tells, my past.
I am so happy I ditched those early geometric shapes…confidence to pursue a different path.