This was my opening welcome for my website, which has fallen into disuse since I started blogging. Still the facts are the same, and you might find it interesting.
If you get the impression that I have had a great life, then that's only the half of it. But to whom much is given, much is expected. My Aunt Joy has a saying about the standard for greatness... "It's not how much you made, it's how much you gave." Giving back is almost a family tradition, yet it is sometimes an elusive ideal. To whom and how much?
I wanted this website so that people would be inspired to persevere and live their lives to the fullest. Like many of you, I too have been in the clutches of the jaws of defeat. My life's work is the epitome of stiff-necked commitment, and God's helpful intervention. After viewing this website, you might find it hard to believe that my college art professors rejected my sophomore portfolio, and advised me to change my major from art to something else. My traditional mindset was an unwelcome aberration in their '70's New Age classroom. Using big words and lofty excuses, they explained that my kind of art was history and I was a dinosaur about to perish in the Post-modern deluge.
I argued that if other "disciplines" (I must have discovered my political abilities here) that were done in the art school, like video experimentation, pornographic photography, phallic ceramics, found objects, and more, were all accepted as art, surely there was a place for me. Although I was an A student, they were insistent that I did not belong, was not welcome to continue, and they had no suggestions about where I should go, so long as I went. So, young, shocked, and demoralized, I changed my major! And then, after struggling with the world of advertising, which seemed to have no soul, I dropped out of school, without a plan.
After about a year working as a brush chopper on a survey crew, I found my head screwed on quite well, and I made a decision to follow Norman Rockwell's philosophy... to let the next generation sort it all out. I would make pictures, whether they were art or not. If I liked to make them, and other people liked to buy them, then who cared what you called it? It was a product. It was LEGAL. If not FINE art, surely picture making was as high a calling as leatherworking or pottery or stained-glass making? I never thought I would get rich... If folk art was legit, then perhaps my trade could at least be placed on that level.
Finally after a great deal of meditation and observation about this strange clash, I have come to this peace... in my mind: Anyone can make legitimate art. I have seen elephants make great abstract paintings. Monkeys, Jackson Pollocks' swinging cans, computer programs, etc. Almost anyone can make "art"... but only the greatest artists, the ones that can imagine, draw, and bring to life illusions from relatively lifeless materials, only they have the passion, the talent and training to make the highest, most disciplined form of art; good illustration. Only an elite group, the best artists, are illustrators. And from what I can tell, I am an illustrator. If my college professors at NTSU were right, well, I had a great run anyway, as a... picture maker.
So if you have a passion to do this, to make things, shape materials, create illusions and icons, and are willing to submit yourself to instruction, and you feel like nobody understands who or what you are, take heart. The truth is that the right-brained folk (creative artist types) have always been suppressed. Left brained folk rule the world... by majority. But right-brained folk, many of them Lefties, have changed the world. From Julius Caesar, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Napolean, Beethoven, Queen Victoria, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Gandhi, Paul McCartney to Bill Gates. Almost all of them had to go against the grain to make their place in history. And art is the most subjective, unfair and erratic of right-brain dominated playing fields. You have to find the strength within to persevere, to know inside that no matter what anyone says, the world, or at least your world is a little bit more whole when you have done your thing. And nobody else can do what you do. So put it out there! There has never been a greater demand for designers of every kind, and thus never a better time in history to be an artist than right now.
If this sounds like your kind of gig, then with or without formal education, find an artist you respect and learn everything you can from them. Do that several times, and make 50 works without expecting to sell anything. Listen to your mentor. Put everything you have into it. Don't look back or listen to anybody who does not understand your passion and your purpose. Then, after you have done this, if absolutely no one wants what you have done, none of it, then perhaps you might need to go get a job... The rest of you will be so swarmed with orders and commissions by then that you will forget you ever read this. Just don't forget to pass it on!