This is my new “Artist’s Statement”. It’s not really a statement of my art or how I paint, as it is a rumination on how I began to paint. I know that for those times I will need to provide an “artist’s statement for shows, etc. I’ll need to alter it to talk more about the art and how I paint, but I kind of like this anyway.
In my childhood, there were dreams. I would paint. I would make beauty. Always present though a shadow. Even my name was hateful to me.
Then, childhood passed. There would be no beauty. There would be other things though. Wonderful things: love, children, a career. Yet hiding in that shadow would be the art, the beauty.
There was a crash. I was unmoving. I was lost in the darkness. Until slowly, emergent, came art.
You see, I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression for much of my adult life. The shadow: blocking out the beauty. Then the finding: Asperger’s. Mild but present-and the knowing brought light.
It was after I was unable to continue my career that I began to paint. Therapy, one could say. I say: a renewal of my childhood dreams. And so I began to know that I love standing on the earth and knowing that I am a part of its wonder. Yet I also know that time is fleeting.
One of my favorite quotes is by writer James Agee: “…and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night.”
Life was for a time, for me, full of sorrow. A sorrow I wanted to end. Painting brought me out of this darkness. When I was in the hospital, the one book I brought along was about oil painting. So when I came home, I began to paint.
I hadn’t painted much since I was young, but now I began to see it as a way to a new life. I wanted to be an artist, and so I painted.
I found other artists. I joined art groups. I painted.
Being a painter has brought me into the light in so many ways. Sometimes being in it can be hard for me. I still struggle, I don’t know how or what to say. But painting has saved my life. I can look and say: here, that’s me. My name is Tom Smith, and I am an artist.