Saturday, February 27, 2010

Childish Things!

Untitled Oil Painting  6.5" X 10"

Memory seems to work best with associations. Although the memories associated with this painting are vague, it was sort of a launching pad for my life as an artist. It was painted at my aunt Barb's house where she very kindly stretched this small canvas for me and provided me with a palette and some brushes. The painting is of a horse or some kind of animal  in a corral with a water tank. There is a road along the mountains leading to a parking area near the corral and a fine looking saguaro near the parking area. I don't remember aunt Barb helping me too much other than with the signature.

At a young age I drew scenes that included subjects I was fascinated with. I remember construction crews putting in sewer lines in our neighborhood to replace septic tanks. I was fascinated with all the heavy equipment like trenchers, backhoes, graders, payloaders and earthmovers and the weathered faces of men operating them. I would draw these things in a fashion like being in the picture plane operating that equipment, often emulating the noises made by them. Oh how I wanted to drive those things. I put in many details like the barricades set up around the work sites and pipes ready to go down in freshly excavated trenches. It was play-drawing. Group play-drawing was the most fun; usually done with my cousins and my brother with aunt Barb dispensing the drawing materials. I was fortunate to land a seating arrangement in third grade with three others kids of a similar artistic bent (coincidence? I don't think so). Mrs Wilkinson doubled up two-seater desks opposing so pairs of students were facing each other; what I look back on now as a rather novel concept. The next year as you can see in the picture below, it was back to everyone facing the front of the class with Mrs. Robinson. Anyway it was Dennis Elliot to my left, Glen haring across from him and Bill Serkland (threw the pot shown below) across from me. Whenever we had free time or "art" time we would all do our thing. I can't remember how we chose the subjects but we were all drawing the same things, mostly action stuff, secretly checking out each others work while striving to make ours the coolest. It was competitive play-drawing. Dennis Elliot was the best of us. This skinny asthmatic with coke bottle bottom eyes was so talented that most of the time we were watching him in awe. He drew airplanes in perspective with foreshortening! Third grade! He was left handed of course; came natural to him. I don't know whatever happened to Dennis and Glen, but Bill was my best friend throughout most of high school. I went to college in Flagstaff and he went to a community college in Phoenix where he took on ceramics. I loved his Raku glazes. We remained good friends up until he died six years ago.

From Watermedia Works
 Pot by Bill Serkland

Lately I've really been reflecting on my life as an artist. Somewhere in a blog I read this byline: "I am an artist, I have to create art whether I want to or not". This is exactly the way I feel and whenever or wherever in my life I have repressed that, I found myself miserable and in the midst of miserable people or maybe I just saw them that way because I was miserable. But when I create art I have what I refer to as "reciprocal purpose". The creating communicates that which is intangible and reflective of purpose, and the purpose drives me to create. Since having cancer and treatment seven years ago I made a decision that I would be more serious and in focus with this purpose. I cannot express what is deep within me any other way. So, I'm embarking on a series that will explore my life as a child artist. I'm mixing then with now; a series of self portraits.

6" X 6", ink on paper

19" X 19"
acrylic, graphite and gesso on Yupo


  1. Your new series is a very important one, and these pieces are wonderfully executed. I like the filters we impose upon our memories. What we bring to the surface of our consciousness, what we deem important from our past, and how we view the influences that made us who we are, are those pieces left in the final filter. We interpret these fragments from the past in a whole new way because we can now see them together in a different assemblage and because a long-life lived provides us with a new perspecdtive. That's how I view "Fireworks" and "Tank." Thank you for sharing these details from your past, and the influence of your teacher and friends.

  2. I enjoyed this timeline of your artistic development. Children and art were a large part of my past career and I tried to encourage and expand horizons. I think you were lucky to have adults who nurtured your artistic skills. Of course Kathy said it all so much more eloquently!

  3. Greetings Stan,

    It appears we have walked a similar path as these past months I have reflected upon my past and also with my previous post have shared three drawing/watercolours I did at the age of five and six.

    Having a tangible piece of art from ones childhood, puts much into perspective.

    Apart from my open heart bypass surgery, I too had cancer, stage 3, in 2004, but it is the heart that I have been unable to deal with. THis Tuesday I go back in for an Angiogram and most likely stents.

    I am glad to see you still have art from your childhood and I hope it will be cherished by your children when it is time to pass it along.

    Warmest regards,

  4. Kathy - Thank you and yes it is an important series. I hope it is good. The filters are interesting to say the least. My mind is racing with ideas faster than I can get them all down, but I'm recording some ("Tank"). We'll see where it goes.

    Margaret - I'm glad you enjoyed the timeline. It was a lot of fun reflecting. I could have written much more, but just wanted to convey enough perhaps just to get a glimpse into my approach to this series. As I was writing it dawned on me that right above me on the shelf of my desk was this pot by my friend Bill Serkland. I had to include it. Thank God for those like you who have encouraged children in the arts.

    Egmont - I did see your childhood art and it furthered my belief that this path that we are on as artists is filled with special moments that are by no means coincidental. Blessings and good health to you my friend.

  5. Stan, this series is so authentic and personal that it's automatically "good!" However, your ability to create masterful designs ensures that they're "GOOD."

  6. Hi Stan, Your "Fireworks" is particularly exciting! I think you have an excellent idea for a powerful series.

  7. Hi Peggy,

    I miss commenting on your blog. Your recent drawings of Ms Kitty are superb. Love them!
    My new series is beginning to work for me as I explore more of my roots as an artist. I'll be posting the latest notes on my explorations this weekend. I'm still not sure where all of this is leading me but that's part of why I'm doing it. The obvious is: how I related to environmental input then and now.

  8. Stan, I have been very remiss in keeping up with all my blog friends the past couple weeks. I think there must be something in the air for us art guys, because like you and Egmont, I have been going thru all of my work from the past 4 decades. It is a very rewarding experience to look where we've been as we chart where we would like to go.

    It seems we walked similar paths in our youth with teachers and other adults recognizing our talents and giving us outlets for them. (Maybe it was their way of keeping us out of trouble.) Thanks for sharing these memories. I'm sure it was cathartic.

    Happy Creating!


  9. Hi Don, Yes cathartic is a good word for it. I'm actually going to assemble that black & white review of my work including other artists who influenced me but I'm finding it hard to put stuff in there I no longer like. But I don't think I can make a fair assessment of past present and future unless I randomly juxtapose as Wendy mentions in her book. I'm not sure the results will reveal anything profound but it's an interesting concept and I'm having fun.