I was talking to Paul Jackson recently about trying to meet up again. I attended his workshop in Pensacola last January. I became aware of his work, specifically his piece Floating Palace via another friend Tom's comments on Facebook, and thought "what the hell, I'm going to go meet this guy." I just couldn't believe how Paul captured the sheen and transparency of the reflection so naturally in that painting and I wanted to talk to him about how he works. Until that point I had always been somewhat of a reclusive painter and wanted to give myself a kick in the ass about getting out there and doing something that would push me to start painting with some new energy. I emailed Paul's wife Marla, plonked down my deposit, and began to plan a trip south. I never expected that the 4 hour drive to Pensacola would be the first leg on a much longer journey that continues to this day with no end in sight.
I've been painting and drawing with relish since I was a kid. I've been a successful and comfortable architectural illustrator for the last 14 years. In all that time I had continued to do side paintings with some idea of having a show and starting a career as a gallery artist. Things got in the way; I had a son, Noah, (a wonder and a gem), I got married (one of the great joys of my life), we took on a renovation of a 1905 Alabama home (nice now, but see how you like washing dishes in a bath tub), all this took money and dedication so I churned out the illustrations and worked like hell on the weekends. At some points I was producing 2 or 3 images a week every week for months on end. This continued right up until New Years Eve of 2008. I finished a rendering, scanned it, sent it off to the client, and then the roof fell in. The architectural industry came apart in the recession but unknowingly I had already switched careers.
Back to Paul, Marla, and a bunch of oysters. I drove down to Pensacola ready and fired up to paint. This was early January 2009. The workshop was in a small framing gallery and there were about 11 of us. I met everyone, put my stuff together and looked on expectantly. For anyone that has taken a workshop (I've taught a few myself) you'll know what I mean when I say we had a mixed group. The skill levels were all over the place. Unknowingly I had signed up for the beginners course, which wasn't a big deal at all. I just wanted to see the guy paint and see how someone else does it. Paul teaches with a refreshingly laid back style. No ego, no pressure, no worries. I did two paintings of the same subject; a reproduction of one of Paul's pieces that I wanted to explore. I chomped some of the sweetest oysters. I drank Budweiser. I met Paul and Marla, Steve, Jan, Evin, and Jonathan. I talked about painting with someone who's work I admired and I came away with something hard to define. I was back in love with painting and my old mistress was alive and beautiful. After years of painting for a small and specific group of clients within a very strict set of rules I was free to explore wherever I wanted.
I have worked like a mad scientist ever since. I've screwed up countless paintings. I had some successes. I started teaching drawing, painting, and composition at the University level. I had two shows last year. I have more planned this year. I've sold a few and I've had a lot of commissions. My studio is brimming with new work and my head with new ideas. I am happy, I mean really damn smiling to yourself making strangers feel weird happy, with what I do. The architectural work is back and that's great. Just don't expect me to paint em like I used to.
As always. A couple of new ones and thanks to all of you.