“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman
Today I was interviewed by TV reporter, Charlie Paparella of WBOC. It wasn’t one of those live on-air sessions where you get one chance to fall on your face. Even though I did have ample opportunities as he visited me in my studio, I’m hopeful that in his capable hands any falters will be dumped into the recycle bin. I’ll let you know when the segment airs.
Charlie took photos of various things in my working space and two photographs that he commented on got me to thinking how lucky I have been to have painted with some wonderfully talented people.
The first photo above is of my dear mentor, Jack Lewis. He’s a WPA artist and will be 100 this year. He taught me everything I know about the artist spirit. I never learned to paint in watercolors even though I tried for many years under his tutelage. He instilled in me a love of plein air painting (that’s painting outside for those who might not be familiar with the term.) He taught me how to “see” as an artist which is a lot different than just plain old looking.
I took this photo in black and white in the late eighties during a class at Rehoboth Art League. It’s hand-colored with Marshall pencils. I think there’s an inch of crud on the glass but this photo hangs close by my easel. I still look to Jack for inspiration even though he’s hundreds of miles away in York, Maine.
The last time I saw him, Dorothy was still alive. I plan to drop by in May to see him as I’m heading to the Portland area then. Jack always dressed the part of a bohemian artist, with his beard and beret being the crowning touches. He has lived a wide and deep and long life. Without his initial guidance and wisdom, I would still be painting bowls of fruit and National Geographic photos.
In the second photo are stalwart painting friends. Left to right lower level, Helen Duff Thompson, Michele Green, Maria Liberto Bessette, and moi (NTCollins) and in the back Dianne Bauer. For those who follow in Facebook or Twitter, I’m sure you recognize Maria and Dianne. We’re still out there painting together after all these years –living wide. I think this photo was taken in 1998. Neither one of us have aged! Helen lives in Pennsylvania now. Michele is out there all the time somewhere on the Delmarva Peninsula paint brush in hand. Dianne, Maria and I are still out there somewhere as well, having picked up a few additional friends along the way which I will be writing about more on my Taylor page in Facebook. .
There are others I’m indebted to. Their photos are not framed in my studio so Charlie and you won’t get to meet them at the moment. But thanks to Charlie and his inquisitiveness, I had a chance today to reflect on the role of artist. I’m glad for the reminder that my journey has not been a lonely one. I’ve been living the width, the breadth and the depth of it here on marvelous Delmarva.