Beginnings – What the Heart Wants

As a pre-Internet child growing up in small towns in the American west, I was not exposed to much “great” art.  There were no art galleries that I recall or art museums in these little places displaying the work of the masters.

We didn’t have art classes in school beyond the occasional time spent with construction paper and crayons.  I’m guessing there must have been artists in the communities in which we lived, but our orbit and theirs didn’t cross.

Like most families in my various neighborhoods, mine had framed prints hanging on the walls – prints purchased at local fine art emporiums like Woolworth’s or J.J. Newberry.   Poker-playing dogs were a favorite as well as misty landscapes and floral bouquets Mr. Turner and Mr. Redouté would not recognize.

No one in my family was an artist per se, although my dad was a good wood worker, my mother crocheted beautiful tablecloths with complex stitches, my grandmother grew prize-winning flowers, and my aunt was a terrific seamstress who created many of her own clothes and the ones I wore as a child.

It was a good long time before I heard the names Michaelangelo, Picasso, DaVinci, O’Keeffe, Matisse or any of the other artists I eventually came to admire.

Still, a seed had been planted somewhere along the line, perhaps by a willing librarian who saw more possibilities and introduced me to one book or another, one illustrator or another who called me to art.

However it happened, I hungered for it and found myself as a college freshman enrolling two weeks late in a Modern Art History class, understanding nothing and with no book because they’d all sold out, but so enamored by the daily slides of the masters that I felt I’d finally opened the door to the banquet hall.  Over the years, I remembered every artist and could identify them all in the galleries and museums in which I eventually found myself.

From that first day until now, it’s been art for me.  I wrote for a living, but it was always art on my mind.  It took years to get here, but get here, I did.

I still have the first two pieces of art I bought for myself soon after that first college class – inexpensive prints, to be sure, but painted by artists whose names I now knew and whose work resonated – Pablo Picasso and Raoul Dufy.

We all have a beginning somewhere with our work.  Mine began here.

picassoprint_jpeg     dufy2

They have informed everything that’s followed for me with regard to art, and they continue to do so, especially the Dufy.  Dufy was one of the fauves, the wild beasts of art for whom color was everything.  I now understand where my own sentiment found its beginning:  “Color is an animal that wags its own tail.”

The heart wants what the heart wants.  Every time.




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